As of Monday, June 30th, the Supreme Court has ruled that certain for-profit companies claiming religious infractions from the new healthcare law that has been in effect for the last 3 years violates the religious freedoms and must not be enforced by such companies. Two particular corporations, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities, immediately challenged the new Affordable Care Act in court when it was introduced and the original health care reform was preserved by justices in another landmark case two years ago.
The shareholders firmly held that they were closely held by certain family members that were religious. The shareholders did not believe that the corporations they represent should be forced to pay for birth control contraceptives as it violated their religious rights, collectively known as the First Amendment and other federal laws protecting religious freedoms. With this ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of such corporations, they say it will enable them to continue to operate in line with their biblical views.
The conservative judges did not believe that the owners of the said companies abrogated their protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 when they structured their companies as a corporation. The entire case rested on the justices' interpretation of this federal statute.
This certainly will put the employees who do not share the same views at an disadvantage. However, in light of the ruling, White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said that the administration will work closely with Congress to address the new gap that just now formed as a result of the decision. Essentially, the government will pick up the tab where the corporations refuse to based on the corporations' religious freedoms.
The Supreme Court's split decision has established a dangerous precedent for future cases where corporations might start using protections that were established for people in order to avoid legal obligations. Debbie Schultz, a representative from Florida, has stated that it will be a campaign issue in the upcoming campaign year. She had this to say of the Republicans, "It is no surprise that Republicans have sided against women on this issue as they have consistently opposed a woman's right to make her own health care decisions."
Are corporations now considered people with protected rights? Was this country founded on the principle that church and state are to be separate? Is our government poised to be dictated by corporations on the whim, in other terms, a kleptocracy?