Letters to the editor: Corporations cannot exercise religion

Written by Tyler Creighton, Common Cause Intern on March 10, 2014

Thumbnail for the Overturn Citizens United campaign

As the Supreme Court hears arguments in Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius (aka Hobby Lobby) a few Bay Staters spoke out in the Boston Globe with letters to the editor against the absurd notion that corporations have a constitutional right to free exercise of religion (see below).

In the case, several for-profit corporations are claiming they have a constitutional right to disregard a legal requirement to provide employees with health insurance coverage for contraception, coverage to which they are entitled under the new federal Affordable Care Act. The justification: It goes against the corporation's religion.

This is the same argument Citizens United trotted out when it successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to strike down bans on corporate expenditures in elections in the name of corporate free speech. A ruling in favor of Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby would further entrench a dangerous precedent that entitles corporations to constitutional rights.

But as Free Speech for People's amicus brief in the case eloquently states, "We all know that individuals, including business owners, enjoy the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. But as any business leader will tell you, corporations are not individuals -- they are purely economic, state-created entities and they do not practice religion."

Money, power should not elevate business owners to the pulpit (March 9, 2014), Jeffrey Mitchell in Cambridge.

The question is not whether people should be allowed to express religious views freely and embody those views in their own private conduct. No one is arguing that they shouldn't. What's really at issue is the extent to which some people should be able to use money and power to control the conduct of people with less money and power...

Why is the "religious freedom" of the Hobby Lobby family more important than mine? Answer: Because they can afford to assume that they should be allowed to control their employees, while I am not rich enough to own a business, mount an advertising campaign, or buy a piece of a candidate for office.

Read the full letter here.

Health benefits belong to employees, not employers (March 9, 2014), Rev. Edwin A. Lane in Wellesley

If your employer disapproves of same-sex marriage, abortion, drinking alcohol, gambling " the list is long " on religious grounds, should the employer be able to withhold wages if you would spend them for such activities? Should a company be able to avoid paying Social Security if their religion opposes the way its employees intend to live in their retirement years?

Funds paid for employees' medical insurance is part of their earned income, just as are wages, Social Security, pensions, and other benefits. It is the "religious conscience" of the employee, not the employer, that should govern the appropriateness of the expenditures of such funds. Medical insurance is vested in and belongs to the employee, not the employer.

Read the full letter here.

Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause Massachusetts

Issues: Money in Politics, Money in Politics

Tags: Disclosure, Massachusetts Disclosure Act

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