Hobby Lobby vs. Obamacare: Corporations are Not People My Friend

Hobby Lobby vs. Obamacare: Corporations are Not People My Friend
Real Politik begs to differ

Real Politik has already dedicated an entire article to criticizing the flawed logic that led to the Supreme Court's now-infamous Citizens United ruling. During Citizens United, the court channeled its inner Mitt Romney by ruling that corporations are people and that political advertising is the same as political speech. Therefore any limits placed on political advertising violate corporations' First Amendment rights and are unconstitutional.

Fast forward to 2014. The court is now weighing whether corporations can have religious beliefs, and if those religious beliefs should be protected by the First Amendment. The case was brought on by lawsuits from private-sector corporations - most famously Hobby Lobby - that are owned by religious Christians who are opposed to covering drugs, treatments and medical procedures that run contrary to their religious beliefs on contraception, birth control and the like, but are mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

Several other editorial boards and columnists have weighed in on the misguided premise of granting corporations religious rights. For example, why would a corporation's religious views supersede those of its employees - who actually are people? What happens when a corporation decides that blood transfusions and other more mainstream medical procedures violate its religious liberty?

While these arguments have merit, they ignore the elephant in the room: The idea that "Corporations are People My Friend" is completely absurd.

Corporations are legal business entities. Humans are a member of the animal species that has evolved to the top of the food chain. One is plainly different from the other and our laws need to reflect that indisputable fact.

Yet, it seems that the "Corporations are People My Friend" school of thought continues to gain momentum within our highest court.

Your writer would like to alleviate this confusion by proposing a basic three-part test the judges can apply to determine if something is a corporation or an actual person. It is called the BFS Test, which stands for beer, fishing and sex.

Part One: Can you drink a beer with it?

If you can drink a beer with the entity in question, then you are dealing with a person, not a corporation. While corporations can market beer and own taverns, they cannot sit down and have a drink with you. Only a person can do that.

Part Two: Can you go fishing with it? 

If you can go fishing with the entity in question, you are dealing with a person, not a corporation. While corporations can produce boats and fishing equipment, they cannot actually sit on a boat with you and catch a fish. Only a person can do that.

Part Three: Can you have sex with it?

If you can consummate the physical act of love with the entity in question, you are dealing with a person, not a corporation. While corporations can own match-making services, social gathering places (see test question No. 1), dating websites and produce a variety of bedroom party favors, you cannot actually have sex with corporations. You need a real person for that.

A seemingly logical conclusion

The BFS test does not seek to place a value judgement on corporations. Real Politik believes that corporations can use their resources for good and for ill, and, like people, most choose the former. However, there needs to be a fundamental shift with regard to how corporations are treated under the law.

Corporations are not people my friend. They do not deserve to be granted religious rights.

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Email Real Politik at realpolitikchicago@gmail.com



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  • Many laws have been passed that are morally questionable , such as the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Dred Scott Decision and the Alien Registration Act of 1940, and if it were not for ordinary citizens objecting to them, they would have never been changed.

    What are your thoughts about corporations such as The New York Times, and the major media corporations, as well as unions putting their efforts into a political candidate? Surely there is money involved in their efforts, and they are not people, either. Shouldn't their efforts be limited by law and their right to free speech limited? I mean, why is freedom of speech any different from religious freedom?

  • Congratulations, you have definitely confirmed that an artificial construct is not a human being. You are a genius.

    Corporations are taxed and regulated by the government. Since they do not have the right to vote (nor should they), the only way they can influence the government to which they are subject is via donations to political candidates and PAC's.

    One of the most significant grievances that the founders of this nation had with England was that they had no say in electing the representatives that had the power to tax them.

    Why should management not be able to direct donations to politicians that they feel will support laws and regulations that benefit said corporation? They are governed, why should they not have a say in the government? As far as I am concerned there should be no restriction on donations and candidates should be required to report donations over $1,000 by anybody via a searchable database within 48 hours of receipt. Disclosure is the key to minimizing corruption, not restrictions on donations.

    As far as the Hobby Lobby issue goes; you need to be able to make a distinction between private corporations with only a few owners and public ones with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of owners.

    Hobby Lobby is the business arm of one family and they want the company to reflect their values. The fact that they opted to organize as a corporation should not prevent that.

    In my opinion an ideal ruling will be one that splits the baby. Public companies cannot claim a religious exemption to federal laws and private companies where the majority of ownership is held by no more than say 10 people can.

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