Friday, July 11, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Damages Boundary Between Church and State

Is Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___, 2014 WL 2921709, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 4505, 123 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 621, perhaps the worst decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ever?

It certainly ranks right up there.

We tried to find "less restrictive" words but alas... what else can one do when confronted with the Supreme Court's psychedelic surrealist holding that a commercial for-profit corporation is a person entitled to private, religious exemptions for "devoutly" held beliefs -- a complete jurisprudential novelty in American law that defies the prudent legal mind.

Talk about inexcusable judicial activism and judge-made law. This is it.

One of the disturbing things about narrow "majorities" on the U.S. Supreme Court is that when they judge badly, as they have in the 5-4 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. decision, such ATROCIOUS jurisprudence is likely to negatively pervade society and the legal systems in the USA and the world for years to come.

The Hobby Lobby decision has inflicted massive injury on the doctrine of the separation of Church and State and the nation has been severely damaged at its core, putting the country further on the path to becoming a Near-East-like confrontational battleground of religious beliefs rather than being a civilized community governed by and adhering to temporal, non-religious Rule of Law.

It must be added that Hobby Lobby is not a case about some small insignificant "closely held" company of no consequence. This is "big time".

As pointed out by Linda Greenhouse at the New York Times in Reading Hobby Lobby in Context, taking facts out of the case opinion:
"Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., [is] a multibillion-dollar corporation with 13,000 employees in some 500 locations. Given the undisputed sincerity of the religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby’s Evangelical Christian owners, the company couldn't be required to comply with the mandate to include contraception coverage in its employee health plan, according to the majority opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Some months ago, Adam Liptak of the New York Times already foresaw the potentially widespread and harmful negative consequences of such a bad ruling in the Hobby Lobby case at Ruling Could Have Reach Beyond Issue of Contraception, quoting former acting solicitor general, Walter Dellinger:
"We would be entering a new world in which, for the first time, commercial enterprises could successfully claim religious exemptions from laws that govern everyone else," Mr. Dellinger said.
As Justice Ginsburg now has written in her powerful dissent in Hobby Lobby, joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan:
"In a decision of startling breadth, the Court [majority, 5-4] holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.... Compelling governmental interests in uniform compliance with the law, and disadvantages that religion-based opt-outs impose on others, hold no sway, the Court decides, at least when there is a “"less restrictive alternative."” And such an alternative, the Court suggests, there always will be whenever, in lieu of tolling an enterprise claiming a religion-based exemption, the government, i.e., the general public, can pick up the tab [i.e. it is OK for those who may hold a different religious belief to have to pay for the exemption-claimer -- absurd!].... [bracketed material and material in red added by LawPundit]
. . .
Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation'’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law.... The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is “"an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.”" Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 636 (1819).  Corporations, Justice Stevens more recently reminded, “"have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.”"  Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm'’n, 558 U. S. 310, 466 (2010) (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part)."
It is remarkable to this observer that men (and that could be an After Hobby Lobby issue) of such presumably high intelligence -- not joined by any of the women on the court in their decision -- can so poorly appreciate the necessity for drawing a strict line between the State and ANY church, ANY religion, and ANY religious belief, credo, or superstition, no matter how "devoutly" held.

Many of us out here "devoutly" feel we should not have to follow any number of laws enforced by governments. But devout feelings have nothing to do with law, either in terms of extra freedoms of speech or extra freedoms of religion.

We support freedom of speech.
Speak your mind. Write what you will.
But be prepared to take the consequences of your actions if 3rd parties are affected.

We support freedom of religion.
Worship in the church of your choice.
Believe what you will.
But do not push your religious beliefs upon 3rd parties or have them pay what should be YOUR fair share of payment in this world. Money is not religion.

In temporal affairs, according to the "Rule of Law", the temporal STATE is paramount in its sovereignty and cannot be permitted to tolerate ANY competitors, from any quarter, especially not from religions and sects.

That is the essence of the doctrine of separation of Church and State, a doctrine which has almost single-handedly enabled our modern world to emerge out of the many war-filled religion-dominated dark ages of humanity.

The sovereign American STATE is prohibited by its Constitution from applying laws discriminatorily based upon the religious views of its citizens.

Indeed, few things establish religion MORE than PREFERENTIAL treatment of religions in the eyes of the law, and that kind of establishment of religion is absolutely prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. NO PREFERENCES. NONE.

Once again in this case, self-proclaimed "originalist" judges such as Justice Scalia have ignored one of the clearest and most original mandates of the U.S. Constitution in order to obtain a legally contraceptive result which "they like", but which has nothing to do with true freedom of religion or with proper interpretation of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

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