Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Federal Court Rules Constitutional Protections Do Not Apply to For-Profit Corporations


In what could be one of the most damaging rulings to Americans' rights, a federal court has ruled that the Constitution does not provide protections for for-profit corporations.  Hobby Lobby sued the federal government over the HHS mandate requiring companies to provide their employees abortion coverage in their employer provided health insurance plans because the company's owner objects to abortion on religious grounds.
District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that the “Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
Perhaps Judge Heaton has not read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  No where in those documents will you find the mention of non-profit or for-profit.  No where will you find circumstances in which an individuals rights are voided for being part of an association.  However, you will find, in the very same amendment that provides the freedom of religion on which this case rests, the freedom of the people to assemble.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in NAACP vs Alabama that the the freedom to assemble equated the freedom to associate, which it said is an essential part of our freedoms because many rights can only be exercised effectively when individuals join together.  Furthermore, in Runyon vs McCrary, SCOTUS ruled that associations were free to exercise their rights in any manner but could not exclude new members to the association based on race or other beliefs.

If this ruling were to set precedent, fourth amendment protections that corporations and other associations have been entitled to would be stripped away.  In Oklahoma Press Pub. Co. v. Wallin, SCOTUS ruled that corporations are provided the same protections against unreasonable search and seizure as individuals.  The key term in the fourth amendment the Judge hinged his decision on was 'unreasonable' which did allow searches of corporations for the purposes of enforcing federal labor laws designed to protect the safety of the corporation's employees.

The reason we have the Bill of Rights is to protect the beliefs of those in the minority.  Why would we need to protect the rights of those we agreed with?  In that same vein, what good are rights if they are considered null and void the moment someone chooses to associate with another individual?

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post.

    One quibble:
    "In that same vein, what good are rights if they are considered null and void the moment someone choices[sic] to associate with another individual?"

    ReplyDelete