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March 20, 2014

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If they're not fighting back, don't use force. There's hints in the filing that there have been moves in that direction; it spoke of prisoners being punished if they did not walk to the restraint chair following Forced Cell Extraction. To be clear, a by-the-book Forced Cell Extraction doesn't culminate in walking; it culminates in the prisoner being picked up like a litter and carried by four troops in full riot gear. If the prisoners are not taking the tubes out, let them sit unrestrained. If they'll leave them in between feedings, leave them in. The literature makes reference to some of these things being permitted pre-2005. Back when things were unacceptably "convenient".

Pretty much just don't be violent if it's not required, even if it reduces the amount of suffering required to seek to (unsuccessfully) maintain the hunger strike. Allow the threat of force to substitute for force.

Allow the threat of force to substitute for force.

Sure, all good.

Well, not to be unduly annoying in return, but when you first mentioned El Masri, it appeared that you were placing the whole kit and caboodle into the Obama administration, including the torture.

I can understand why that might be so, my apologies again for my error in citing El Masri in reference to Obama.

To be clear, my intent was not to place the responsibility for the torture regime on Obama, but rather simply to give an example of how the precedent of torture, even if the practice is discontinued, tends to warp subsequent policy and law.

What I think would be useful for the US would be something akin to the post-apartheid South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the point of which was not so much to pursue and prosecute wrong-doers, but to expose and acknowledge wrong behavior.

Instead, our way of "dealing with it" is to act like it never happened.

I don't like the state secrets privilege, but it's up to the courts to limit it.

I agree.

I agree that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an excellent idea. I think that the reason it hasn't been convened is that it has be undertaken in good faith. Our political leadership (and I'm blaming Republicans here - sorry to not be "both sides do it") has not acted in good faith.

That's not to say (in refusing the "both sides do it" chant) that Democrats aren't guilty. They were far too ready to go along with all that happened. I just don't think that there would be enough "truth" if a Truth and Reconciliation Commission were held today. I hope that it happens - I really do.

@wj: "Yoo was on the faculty, tenured faculty, at Berkeley before going to work for the Bush administration. Getting rid of tenured faculty is extremely difficult."

Yet one of the few ways to fire tenured faculty is proving a charge of "Moral Turpitude"

Perhaps I'm just hopelessly naive, but authoring legal memos justifying torture, up to and including "crushing the testicles of a child" seems like the very definition of moral turpitude.

That's not to say (in refusing the "both sides do it" chant) that Democrats aren't guilty. They were far too ready to go along with all that happened.

Agree.

Having witnessed the acrimony and carnage this subject engendered on this and several previous threads, I would venture that this is, in fact, just about all your opponents have ever asked you to concede as long as the set of "Democrats" includes the current president.

The problem is the institutional arrangements that have metastasized since the onset of the Cold War. When such arrangements are constructed so as to broaden the scope of what is secret and assign broad unaccountable powers to those in charge, it will not matter "who" is in power. As they say, the beatings will continue.

As long as the societal consensus providing legitimacy to these arrangements holds, it will not make much difference how the People vote unless the vote is one that is specifically held to dismantle them.

The problem is the institutional arrangements that have metastasized since the onset of the Cold War.

what bobbyp said.

Having witnessed the acrimony and carnage this subject engendered on this and several previous threads, I would venture that this is, in fact, just about all your opponents have ever asked you to concede as long as the set of "Democrats" includes the current president.

No, not really. We can all agree that Democrats were culpable in enabling Bush/Cheney, the Iraq war, etc. Obama and the torture regime? No, I'm not conceding that. Thanks for the usual b.s.

By the way, bobbyp, where's your candidate who could do the miraculous American post-Iraq-war Bush clean-up revival purification scheme?

Snarki, I would definitely agree. But faculty unions being what they are, if the moral turpitude isn't enough to get him disbarred . . . .

Memos have surfaced which argue that torture is legal (the Yoo memos), but we haven't seen any memos on the effectiveness of torture, and after this amount of time it seems reasonable to conclude that the reason we haven't seen them is because they don't exist.

If your goal is to extract information as effectively as possible, morality be damned, that leaves you with two concerns. The first is that the United States has developed effective techniques for interrogating people. Substituting torture for proven interrogation techniques risks losing information that could prevent a terrorist attack.

The second is that, once you make the decision to engage in torture, you want to select the most effective approach for extracting information. That would mean that your starting point in developing a torture program would be to look at the effectiveness of past efforts to extract information using torture. You wouldn't look to a Chinese program designed to generate false confessions as your primary source of techniques.

I think that any serious attempt by the government to grapple with these concerns would have left a paper trail. I don't doubt that the people who committed and authorized the use of torture believed that it would be effective, but I think that that believe was the result of a desire to believe rather than the result of examining the evidence. I think that the people involved wanted to prevent future attacks, but that dealing with the psychological fallout from the attack that had already occurred was more important to them than preventing future attacks.

Obama and the torture regime? No, I'm not conceding that...

I state what I believe your opponents are arguing, not what you are arguing. Restating your conclusion is not an argument.

bobbyp--

"As long as the societal consensus providing legitimacy to these arrangements holds, it will not make much difference how the People vote unless the vote is one that is specifically held to dismantle them."

Sapient in President worship mode missing the point--
"By the way, bobbyp, where's your candidate who could do the miraculous American post-Iraq-war Bush clean-up revival purification scheme?"

By the way, bobbyp, where's your candidate who could do the miraculous American post-Iraq-war Bush clean-up revival purification scheme?

My candidate? Did I say there is such a candidate? Did I say we needed such a candidate or a "miraculous revival purification scheme"?

I simply point out that our current president is constrained by powerful and deeply ingrained institutional arrangements and/or constraints bolstered by an underlying policy consensus. That the consensus is more or less similar to that of Rome in the day, well, I leave for future discussion.

When you try to speak for others, try to repeat what they actually aver....just for a pleasant change of pace.

It only hurts a little.

By the way, bobbyp, where's your candidate who could do the miraculous American post-Iraq-war Bush clean-up revival purification scheme?

There isn't one. Isn't, can't, and won't be. That's the point.

One might think we were marshalling great national resources in futile attempts to create an ideal world, rather than discussing our ideal preferences on a blog, and, even then, using minimal bits to do so - far fewer than, say, people looking at porn.

Didn't Obama repeat at some point the standard cliche that he wanted to be pressured to do the right thing? My memory is fuzzy on this and I don't remember the context if it happened.

I didn't realize that when Obama urged people to urge change, it was a cliche. In any case, he is responsive.

What would you be pressuring for in the case of the Bush torture legacy? Prosecutions? Truth commission? What do you want to have happen? I think he believes that any good faith resolution or attempt to address that history has been impossible because of the political climate. I agree with him, although I sense that perhaps things are changing.

bobbyp: our current president is constrained by powerful and deeply ingrained institutional arrangements and/or constraints bolstered by an underlying policy consensus.

I think that's true. Acknowledging that fact, and understanding that he seems to try very hard to work within those limitations for positive change, is why I'm so puzzled that people are constantly blaming him for not changing the landscape. The landscape needs to be changed in Congress, in state goverments, etc. Obama isn't the one who's holding the country back.

Sapient,

As far as I can tell it is simply calling him out for two mistakes:

1) Assuming that people really wanted change
2) Having the hubris to declare that he would create it

Two sides, two reasons. Either way he failed because his assumptions and arrogance allowed him to create an unachievable set of expectations.

I didn't realize that when Obama urged people to urge change, it was a cliche.

Are you suggesting that cliches are no longer cliches when Obama repeats them?

...why I'm so puzzled that people are constantly blaming him for not changing the landscape.

The extent to which this thread is about Obama is largely because of your comments, sapient. You read attacks on Obama into other people's comments and leap to his defense. When people disagree with specific points in your defenses of Obama, it becomes a matter of "constantly blaming him."

I don't like doing the petty, meta-discussion thing, but it's so damned annoying that I can't help myself.

Also, too - AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!

So, there we have it.

1. The American people made torture respectable.

2. All future Presidential candidates (for that matter, all candidates) should eschew hubris (the upside: doing away with tragedy all together in our leaders) and on this issue and all others, including lowering marginal tax rates, plainly state that they have no intentions of changing anything whatsoever.

The campaign literature will be highly simplified, but rather uniform across the board.

3. In the area of unachievable sets of expectations, I hereby declare every word, syllable, and punctuation mark in the Constitution to be null and avoid, given the document's bullsh*t assumptions and arrogance.

My 2:24pm is M. G. Krebs response to the Dobe at 1:58pm.

Also, send the "a" in "avoid" in my last paragraph into the void.

All future Presidential candidates (for that matter, all candidates) should eschew hubris (the upside: doing away with tragedy all together in our leaders) and on this issue and all others, including lowering marginal tax rates, plainly state that they have no intentions of changing anything whatsoever.

And they would eschew cliche at the same time!

Gesundheit!

Good Stuff, Maynard.

Touché!

"I didn't realize that when Obama urged people to urge change, it was a cliche. "

Hsh mentioned this already, but it's funny/tiresome (depending on one's mood) how you can take the most banal of statements and read it as an attack on Obama. It's as a few people have said--any issue which even touches on Obama tangentially in any way that isn't absolutely reverential triggers an immediate defensive response on your part.

Anyway, I don't think Obama was the first politician to say that if you want change, force me to do it. My vague recollection is that he was repeating what some other progressive politician had said.

And if Obama is responding, it means that those who have been criticizing both him and the NSA might have been doing what people are supposed to do in a democracy--they were pressuring him and he responded. You seem to want to get rid of the pressure, but give him credit all the same for responding to it.

Hsh mentioned this already, but it's funny/tiresome (depending on one's mood) how you can take the most banal of statements and read it as an attack on Obama.

Actually, it was more my editor side. I think it's funny/tiresome for people to pretend that they're so bored with life that everything is a cliche. In fact, regarding: " I don't think Obama was the first politician to say that if you want change, force me to do it. My vague recollection is that he was repeating what some other progressive politician had said", I wouldn't be surprised if he did borrow from someone else, but that doesn't make it a cliché. But you've seen and heard it all, no doubt. Sometimes I feel the same way.

FDR I think.

FDR I think.

Well, I've heard of him a million times. What a cliche.

Not bored with life, sapient. Bored with people who worship politicians. And you clearly thought the "cliche" remark was an attack on Obama and not just an assault on the English language. I think the cliche, that we need to pressure politicians, is virtually self-evident, which is why I called it a cliche. But its obvious truth is obviously not obvious to the people who flip out whenever their favorite politician is pressured.

But since Obama agrees that the NSA needs to be reined in, I guess we can all move on.

It was FDR according to my two minutes of googling. My memory might be faulty regarding Obama saying something like this. I might have been remembering articles of this sort--

link to progressive magazine piece

I think it was candidate Barry Goldwater who promised to change everything back to the way it was in 1776, except for the words "equal" and "happiness" in the Constitution; those would have to go. The relevant phrases would read "all men are created, now get lost" and instead of the "pursuit of happiness" it would read "vague dissatisfaction stalking us at every turn") and then freeze frame the rest as permanent cliche, like Lenin's corpse.

And there would be no more fancy pants words like "cliche" permitted either. Too French.

The "omelot" would become "freedom eggs" and so on, "and so on" being the cliche term for "shut up, what am I talking to you for?"

In our culture today, we don't even leave the requisite time for boredom to set in as something entirely new degrades and is embalmed into the rigor mortis of cliche.

It's an instant classic!

It's an immediate collectible!

It's a ready-made antique!

A Bitcoin for your cliched thoughts?

FDR I think, therefore Paul Ryan am.

Speaking of resurrected cliches, today, in Supreme Court arguments about whether corporations, those very special effing people, are devoutly Catholic, Protestant as a jaybird, or atheist when it comes to their employees birth control, Antonin Scalia countered Elena Kagan's comments regarding his big swinging dick hypocrisy by addressing her as "Elena, you ignorant slut!"

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/elena-kagan-antonin-scalia-birth-control-mandate

What has this to do with torture? Well, Scalia will apparently vote to allow corporate gods to impose their religious beliefs on their employees, despite no Constitutional legal precedence for such, but he has also stated that he sees no role for the Supreme Court to impose its opinions on the government's national security surveillance of our conversations, nor does he find much to quibble with when the U.S. Government imposes water boarding on prisoners of war.

This last he will, I hope, live to regret, when I walk into his holding cell, when the appropriate time arrives, and it will, carrying a car battery and battery cables to induce his corporate testicles to sing the entire score of Mama Mia in Italian at the top of his lungs.

No, he won't. Why not? Because the corporations will be paying their employees in this thing called "money", which among other things, can be used to buy the relevant birth control.

I refuse to discuss this as though birth control were not available unless paid for by insurance. That's like pretending you can't get an oil change for your car unless your insurance covers it.

This isn't about whether employees can get birth control. It's about whether employers who object to some form of birth control can be compelled to be complicit in something they think is evil.

In the end, it's really nothing more than a kind of dominance display, Democrats insisting on proving that nobody gets to follow their own conscience, you do as you're told.

Sorry for the threadjack and sucking you into it, Brett.

I'll keep further thoughts to myself unless there is a post about the case or an open thread.

Well sucked, Count. I'm sure you'll enjoy the delicious irony of this essay:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/hobbylobby/

Because the corporations will be paying their employees in this thing called "money", which among other things, can be used to buy the relevant birth control.

(...)

This isn't about whether employees can get birth control. It's about whether employers who object to some form of birth control can be compelled to be complicit in something they think is evil.

It looks like they're complicit either way, Brett. Or they're not complicit either way. You choose which, but there's no mixing and matching complicity with non-complicity to suit your argument.

And reducing the question of insurance coverage or the lack thereof to a binary can-get/can't-get situation is just silly. Maybe you know that already, but just find it a convenient way to look at the question for your immediate purposes.

While this, from bobbyp's link, isn't the most relevent to recent comments, it jumped out at me as being "delicious."

They have contributed to the displacing of smaller, local businesses with the extensive assistance of government, especially in the form of free-trade agreements, military-protected fossil-fuel production and transportation along with international shipping corridors, state-sponsored infrastructure that give major advantages to businesses that rely heavily on economies of scale based on trucking, and zoning laws that encourage the evisceration of downtowns in favor of national chains. Purchases in these chain stores result in a net outflow of money from these communities into the coffers of distant and absentee owners.

Brett, why don't you argue the far more solid position that having employers in the health insurance business is a mistake and should be ceased regardless? I suspect that you would get almost uniform agreement here -- unless someone is secretly an insurance company employee.

That entire essay was delicious.

The American Conservative writer put something into words that I've been trying to get at and express for a long time, that this unholy alliance of markets-must-be-obeyed-at-all-costs and the moral fundamentals of a conservative religious worldview is a chimera that one day will consume itself and tear the country asunder.

I'm putting the Polyani book and the other work cited therein on my reading list.

I suspect that Brett would be fine with corporations, those superhuman moral agents, dispensing with healthcare coverage altogether, since the system is based on another government mandate from the World War II era, and I'm agreeable to that, except that my Titanic of government-mandated universal healthcare coverage with the care itself administered via the private medical actors in the marketplace would founder and sink on Brett's insistence on purity.

In which case, he would be correct that birth control would be affordable and available to much of the population outside any mandated insurance scheme, but that would be about it.

Brain surgery, not so much.

As to the Hobby Lobby case, since the owners of the company, like Roger Ailes being shocked at his audience's demographic profile, were providing the birth control methods for how long ... decades, years at least .... and claim they had no idea, through their insurance scheme, one wonders if they are worried about burning in Hell for their sins.

They are like Hindus who discover that they have been unwittingly inhaling gnats and thus snuffing out life since birth.

NOW they decide that they and everyone else must hold their breath, and in the holding, consider themselves martyrs as well.

But it's not really that, either. It was just another case hunted up by activist Republican attorneys to scuttle Obamacare. That's it.

Crap from top to bottom and stem to stern.

Fine. Have at it. As the American Conservative article points out, go ahead and open that can of worms.

We're all complicit and compelled hundreds of times a week to violate our personal opinions of Evil.

I have my own ideas about what is moral and what is not, and I can't wait to adjudicate all 5000 of them.

For example, anesthesia during surgery, especially radical dental work, for Republicans, subsidized by my insurance payments.

People who cause pain for others need some goddamned effing pain of their own.

By the way, I would advise those who are trying to change their wife's or girlfriend's or sister's or mother's oil to make sure to properly secure their oil plugs after you drain the old oil from their sumps, else there might be a catastrophic leak and they will seize up on you, probably right in the middle of bringing you a beer from the fridge.

Every 5000 miles or so is advised by the Car Guys and you might as well rotate their tires as well at the same time.

Not mandated, but advised.

"Brett, why don't you argue the far more solid position that having employers in the health insurance business is a mistake and should be ceased regardless?"

Well, yes, that's the real source of the problem here, the linkage between health insurance and employment that was caused by the non-taxible nature of compensation in the form of insurance. And I HAVE argued that.

The third party funding thwarts normal market cost containment mechanisms, while the transient nature of employement introduces the problem of pre-existing conditions, and the pre-tax status drives all sorts of things that aren't actually insurance to be included, because it's cheaper to pay people if you call it "health insurance".

OTOH, as a result the cost of health insurance has climbed to the point where most people could simply not afford it, were they to recieve the employer share of the cost as income, and pay taxes on it.

Either we should strip health insurance of it's pre-tax nature, while lowering tax rates to produce the same net result, or we should extend that pre-tax status to health insurance obtained from any source. Either approach would allow for people to obtain their insurance through credit unions, fraternal organizations, or the like, allowing them to stay in the same insurance pool all their lives, while still getting the negociating strength of a large group.

And it would get rid of the distortions that cause all sort of predictable/elective expenses to be paid through "insurance".

Like, to the point, birth control.

Fine. Have at it. As the American Conservative article points out, go ahead and open that can of worms.

This is kind of where I'm at.

Brett's right, if the insurance company doesn't cover it, folks can just buy it for themselves. The products in question are not extraordinarily expensive.

So, to be perfectly honest, nobody is going to be overwhelmingly burdened by Hobby Lobby being granted an exemption.

So yeah, have at it. I'm looking forward, in a good old Leninist heighten-the-contradictions way, to the multitude of interesting and no doubt peculiar ways in which the religious conscience of for-profit corporations is going to manifest itself, if the SCOTUS rules for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Let a thousand freaky flowers bloom, y'all.

Also, many thanks to bobbyp for the link to the TAC article. I appreciate those guys, at least their understanding of conservatism extends beyond an obsession with property rights and guns.

I suspect very few self-described conservatives would want to live in a world that operated per TAC's point of view.

Seriously:

This economy—like the one it displaced—is not neutral; it is based on certain assumptions about human nature and implicitly teaches its participants to model their own behavior on those assumptions. The anthropology at the base of our modern economy is that of rationally calculating, utility maximizing individuals who have learned to understand both human labor and resources as commodities, who seek always to calculate economic activity in terms of price (hence, are always called “consumers”) in ways that obscure any connections between what is purchased and its implications for our communities. We have thoroughly accepted the separation of markets from social, moral, and religious structures—indeed, the only way that we generally speak of “morality” in economics is that which is provided after the fact not by communities and the people within them, but only by the now-distant State through regulation and redistribution.

Almost everything I'd ever want to say, about anything we ever talk about here on ObWi, all wrapped up in one paragraph.

I tip my hat.

Not to hijack the thread (as if it wasn't already).
But suppose that the Court decides for Hobby et al. Could not an equally good case be made for a company having a religious objection to vaccination? Or to providing spousal health insurance to same-sex spouses? Or, concievably, to interracial spouses?

Sure, some of those seem wildly unlikely. But if a corporation can claim a religious exception for following the law in one particular type of health care insurance, why not in others?

Birth control for women is prescribed many times for non-elective medical reasons besides preventing impregnation.

But then no one forced them to elect to be female, so what's the problem?

I would argue that net/net, freedom is increased by Hobby Lobby paying for birth control through their insurance. That way, the sacred, freely acting individuals who work for them may decide for themselves, as autonomous individuals units, whether to avail themselves of the prescriptions, depending on their individual moral scruples.

Instead of one family, the owners having their freedom curtailed, many other will have their freedom of choice curtailed if Hobby Lobby wins this case.

This would avoid the admittedly rare incidence of individuals who work there and wish to use birth control, but can't afford the expense on their own, being prevented the service.

Yes, they are free to not have sex under some misunderstanding of the nature of the human species, but they aren't free to avoid menopause and other female medical conditions.

Sure, some of those seem wildly unlikely.

No more or less unlikely than not wanting to contribute to paying for an insurance policy that includes coverage for an IUD that somebody, somewhere, might purchase and use.

One thing I'm curious about is what happens when a health insurance company gets religion. Is it exempt from ACA requirements regarding what its product offerings have to include?

There's a nice niche market here waiting to be exploited.

Siding with Hobby Lobby would certainly open up the floodgates for crazy stuff.

I, for one, welcome the first company run by Scientologists, that claim that defrauding people is a core religious principle for them. What could go wrong?

Yet, somewhere down the road to crazytown, Nino will decide which religions are "real", and which can be dismissed.

The OP is about torture. The conservative 5 on the USSC is getting set to torture "logic" and "precedent" in appalling ways.

First, thanks for the article, bobbyp, I enjoyed it.

Second, what russell said (12:22 and 12:34 PM).

That paragraph you quoted, russell, is incredibly in line with conversations I have with my wife (who is not libertarian in any way, shape or form). Where we agree is that this:

We have thoroughly accepted the separation of markets from social, moral, and religious structures

has happened. And that's its bad. Economically bad and socially bad.

wj:

Sure, some of those seem wildly unlikely.

Either way they rule (right now I'm leaning towards in favor of Hobby Lobby, but the oral arguments were not great for the either), I think they will rule narrowly.

Religious objections have been overruled many many times for compelling government interests. I will suspect they will rule that in this case there is an undue burden and lack of compelling interest, but structure it as to not give expansive rights to large, multinational, publicly traded corporations and the like, nor broadly say compelling interests can't overrule religious beliefs.

My guess, but I wouldn't be surprised either way. The atty for Hobby Lobby did not do well.

Like I said last time around on this subject, I am unswayed by the arguments all the way around.

Brett:

In the end, it's really nothing more than a kind of dominance display

I'd say both sides are engaging in a dominance display.

Hobby Lobby's insurance had BC covered previously. Maybe they didn't know, maybe they didn't think about it: but this became a problem when the government said you have to do X (which they already did).

Likewise, the government could have made an accommodation process for closely held for-profit organizations.

I kind of feel like both sides are fighting over this purely because they want to win. Not because they care about what they are fighting over.

"I'm looking forward, in a good old Leninist heighten-the-contradictions way, to the multitude of interesting and no doubt peculiar ways in which the religious conscience of for-profit corporations is going to manifest itself, if the SCOTUS rules for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga."

I'm trying to figure out what "contradictions" you see here, to be heightened.

I want butter pecan, you want chocolate, the court rules that neither of us can force the other to eat the flavor we don't want. What's the heightened contradiction to be afraid of? Pistachio? That different people make different choices isn't a contradiction in a market economy, it's life.

Health insurance isn't like which side of the road we drive on, you don't get twenty car pileups if this company's health insurance covers IDUs, and that company's doesn't, if one person opts for a high deductable policy, and that person choses a first dollar policy. Rather, it's like most things in the world, where Bob can make one choice, and Sally another, and... nothing happens.

And such a trivial matter to draw a line in the sand over: Whether a Hobby Lobby employee flashes their health insurance card, or their HSA card, when buying contraceptives.

That's why I think this is some kind of political dominance display, an exercise in rubbing the other's face in the fact that you've got the power to make him do what you want. This is just such a stupid line in the sand to draw, unless the point is just proving you can draw the line anywhere you want, and nobody else has a say in the matter.

Could not an equally good case be made for a company having a religious objection to vaccination? Or to providing spousal health insurance to same-sex spouses?

No and no. BC is a stand alone, severable, defined benefit under ACA (or under an insurance policy, for that matter). Vaccinations, like shots, transfusions, surgery, pap smears, etc, are clinical modalities that fall within the general grant of coverage contained in any health insurance policy. It would be like objecting that modern medicine violates a specific religious injunction and therefore the employer is exempt from providing health insurance.

SS married couples is far likelier to get to court, but the complainant should lose. First and foremost, the employer isn't being asked to provide a specific service to all that the employer finds objectionable on religious grounds. Rather, the employer is seeking to withhold from one what it gives to all others. Second, unless the act of purchasing insurance per se is claimed to violate conscience--see above and good luck with that--complaining that the insurance will benefit someone in a relationship the employer objects to is like withholding a paycheck from someone who might spend the money on fast horses, loose women and demon rum. What happens outside the work place is not the employer's affair, unless it also affects the workplace.

It's like the nonargument against Hobby Lobby, i.e. that there is no difference between paying an employee who then buys BC and just paying for the BC through insurance. The employer has no right of control on how its employees spend their money, and every employer pays employees with money. It is the compelled act imposed on the employer that puts this issue in front of the supreme court.

thompson:
They may try to rule narrowly. But they tried that with Windsor, and look how that is working out.

Therefore, McKinney's argument notwithstanding, I expect that Hobby ends up losing. If the Justices were confident that all those other medical practices wouldn't be back to haunt them next year, it might be a different story. But recent experience will, I expect, cause most of them to bite the bullet on this one.

I'm trying to figure out what "contradictions" you see here

See below.

Vaccinations, like shots, transfusions, surgery, pap smears, etc, are clinical modalities that fall within the general grant of coverage contained in any health insurance policy.

I'm looking at the schedule of benefits from my more or less generic PPO, and there is absolutely no difference in how family planning services is presented or packaged as compared to anything in the list you give here.

Same for abortion, too, it's just "voluntary termination of pregnancy".

Maybe there's some magic legal term of art meaning in words like "stand-alone", "severable", or "defined", but as best as I can tell it's not reflected in my insurance coverage.

Birth control, specifically, isn't even listed, there's just an entry in the schedule of benefits for "family planning".

What are listed specifically are vaccinations, pap smears, and surgeries of various kinds.

And the things you name are by no means included under any kind of "general grant of coverage" included in "any health insurance policy".

Take a look at what is and isn't covered under a typical catastrophic plan, which is what many folks who don't make a lot of money have been living with for some time now. Under many of those plans, you will not be covered for any form of preventive care, full stop.

If those things are now part of some widely assumed "general grant of coverage", it's because the ACA has made them so.

To Brett's point, the "contradictions" will emerge when everyone with a oddball religious conviction gets to claim exemptions from any and every regulation that applies to how they operate their business.

The employer has no right of control on how its employees spend their money, and every employer pays employees with money. It is the compelled act imposed on the employer that puts this issue in front of the supreme court.

I'm still not seeing a difference here.

For one thing, employers are compelled to pay their employees with money, if I'm not mistaken. Nobody is working at Hobby Lobby for free stencils.

If an employer offers health insurance as part of compensation, the law says what it has to include, just like the law says how many hours you can be required to work without a break, or what the minimum number of dollars per hour is, etc etc etc.

What employees do with that compensation is none of the business of the employer.

If an employer offers health insurance as part of compensation, the law says what it has to include, just like the law says how many hours you can be required to work without a break, or what the minimum number of dollars per hour is, etc etc etc.

One of these things is not like the other, no matter how many etc. you put on there. The argument is another of those that is a waste of the governments time and energy, caused by a sense that government should take care of everything. In some sense the government has become too small(minded), why would it ever worry about this?

If you have a job that includes having insurance from an employer, you most certainly should be expected to pay the 9 dollars a month birth control costs at Walmart.


One of these things is not like the other, no matter how many etc. you put on there.

Then explain to me what the difference is.

They all require government's time and energy to define and enforce. Whether it's a waste is in the eye of the beholder.

They all come from a sense that government should "take care of everything". Minimum wage, regulations about how long you can work without a break, all of it comes from the sense that government needs to intervene in the relationship between employers and employees.

What's small minded about what insurance coverage should include, but not small minded about paying somebody $7.25 an hour instead of $7.00, or $5.00?

If there's a difference in there somewhere other than somebody's arbitrary personal opinion that regulation up to point X is OK, but up to point Y is obviously excessive, I'm not seeing it.

You see a distinction. Explain to me what it is.

Russell, still not seeing any "contradiction" here. Hobby Lobby could win beyond their wildest dreams, Roberts repent his vote in favor of the ACA, and the whole thing gets struck down, root and branch, and there wouldn't be any contradictions.

We could have a legal regime under which companies run by Jehovah's Witnesses offered their employees insurance that didn't cover blood transfusions, and there wouldn't be any contradictions.

What, exactly, do you mean by "contradictions"? I'm guessing it's something other than, "Asserting "A" and not "A" at the same time."

Because, so far as I can see, the government could renounce regulating the details of health insurance entirely, abandon all thought of mandates, and there wouldn't be any contradictions involved.

Brett, it's a figure of speech.

"Heighten the contradictions" is an expression generally attributed to Lenin.

The meaning, as used colloquially, is that you will allow or even encourage a bad situation to get even worse, in order to make it's badness that much more manifest.

So, Hobby Lobby is granted an exemption from the ACA mandate due to 1st A freedom of religious expression, and 1,000 other for-profit corporations discover their own personal deities and claim exemptions from 10,000 other regulations.

Hilarity ensues.

Whether that's good or bad depends on your point of view. As, in fact, was true of the "contradictions" of Lenin's day.

We could have a legal regime under which companies run by vampires offered their employees insurance that covered nightly blood transfusions from Jehovah's Witnesses children and there wouldn't be any contradictions either.

I'm trying to imagine a person who needed a blood transfusion reacting to his Jehovah's Witness boss saying: "I'm sorry, it's unfortunate that we will not cover that, but it is no way contradictory."

wj:

Therefore, McKinney's argument notwithstanding, I expect that Hobby ends up losing.

Well, we'll see. I'm curious to read the opinion. Legally curious, I don't really care about the outcome as a practical matter. But, it will be interesting to read.

If the Justices were confident that all those other medical practices wouldn't be back to haunt them next year
-and-
1,000 other for-profit corporations discover their own personal deities and claim exemptions

I really don't see this happening. Even if they decide for Hobby Lobby, I think they will decide narrowly.

I think a company will have to prove that it has a sincerely held belief (which would pretty much limit it to tightly held corporations with a long history of actions consistent with that belief) and that there isn't a compelling interest (which the USSC has previously had pretty broad and I can readily see vaccines falling in that category, even if BC doesn't).

I think the government left themselves too open with the religious exemptions and accommodations to BC they had in the regulations. Accommodations that aren't there for other treatments, IIRC. So, a distinction between BC and vaccines is being drawn by HHS, I don't think the court would have a problem writing along those lines.

Bottom line, even if Hobby Lobby wins, I don't think Exxon is going to decide they are part of the church of no taxes and get traction in the courts.

They will, as previously, get a lot of traction by lobbying congress to make our tax laws as ridiculous as possible.

russell:

Thanks for that lesson on "heighten the contradictions". Didn't know that, learn something new every day.

Josh

I think a company will have to prove that it has a sincerely held belief (which would pretty much limit it to tightly held corporations with a long history of actions consistent with that belief) and that there isn't a compelling interest

B&H Photo, currently being sued for a disinclination to hire women.

Women are a protected class, of course, but freedom of religion is 1st Amendment.

Dueling lawyers at dawn!

It's not that hard to find businesses that are (a) closely held by (b) distinctly religious people who (c) are bugged by some aspect of their legal obligations as employers or, generally, business owners.

The SCOTUS may rule narrowly today, tomorrow they may decide to read the findings more broadly.

It happens.

I don't have extremely strong feelings either way about whether Hobby Lobby, specifically, gets an exemption.

IMO the apparent inability to distinguish between human beings, and legal entities specifically devised to not be those human beings, as regards their inalienable rights, is pernicious.

Also IMO, it's so baked in at this point that it's never going to be undone. We're going to ride this particular pony right into the ground.

Whether that's good or bad depends on your point of view...

That article was so, so....jeez..right on. I mean, here's a guy writing in American Conservative approvingly citing Karl Polanyi, prominent academic Marxist, and capturing in many central respects Marx's concept of "alienation" of the worker under capitalism from his labor.

I was, and remain, in awe. So the next time you meet a self described conservative who goes off on private property, so-called free markets, and capitalism...remind them they are not a true conservative.

They are just masturbating.

Dueling lawyers at dawn!

Yeah, that's pretty much how things get decided when there are multiple perspectives on ambiguous and potentially contradictory laws. Which, in general, I view as a good thing. The court system has its problems, but someone needs to arbitrate disagreements on laws and the court system seems like a good choice.

(c) are bugged by some aspect of their legal obligations as employers or, generally, business owners.

If that's the standard the USSC uses, yeah, I'd agree that would be bad. But I don't think it's likely.

Thompson,

"I think they will decide narrowly."

The problem here is that so many of the arguments advanced by the HobbyLobbyists are either nonsensical, self-refuting, or simply not true.

In this instance the Court cannot decide "narrowly". They either blow a hole wide open through precedent and law or they eat it.

They are between a rock and a conservative hard place.

But I'm sure there will be more discussion on this once they render their decision.

Until then.

Well, the American Conservative got excommunicated from the true RW faith sometime during the reign of the lesser Bush (to be right too early is an unforgivable sin, cf. people who stopped worshipping St.Jossif before Nikita discovered to his and everyone else's shocking dismay what a pig the grand moustache had been).

"So the next time you meet a self described conservative who goes off on private property, so-called free markets, and capitalism...remind them they are not a true conservative."

Ah, I get it: There ARE "true Scotsmen", it's just that nobody from Scotland has any say in determining who they are. Got it...

One almost sure bet is that it will be a 5:4 decision with Kennedy as the deciding vote as usual.
The four on the Right have shown again and again that precedent carries no weight for (or rather against) them, even if it is their own, and Sotomayor and Kagan rubbing Scalia's nose in it will not sway him (rather the opposite).
With Kennedy it depends on whether he is caught on his conservative, Catholic or corporatist foot.
If it is a narrow decision (either way), it will be to appease his remnants of a soul. Roberts could be the other driver for a narrow decision in favor of Hobby Lobby because he must know that too broad a decision could easily turn out to be a nuke blowing his reputation and legacy up.

HobbyLobbyists are either nonsensical, self-refuting, or simply not true.

Yeah, I'd agree. I'd also say the same about the gov, however. If you haven't read the argument transcript, I'd recommend it.

It reads like neither the SG or the HL atty were prepared.

In this instance the Court cannot decide "narrowly".

I'm pretty sure the USSC has broad authority to render its decision as it sees fit. They frequently decide cases very narrowly and they could readily do so again.

But I'm sure there will be more discussion on this once they render their decision.

Until then.

I look forward to it. I should also probably stop supporting a threadjack.

Now, bobbyp, to paraphrase Woody Allen, there is no need to start insulting their hobbies, sincerely held as they may be.

Thompson wrote:

"I think a company will have to prove that it has a sincerely held belief ..."

I sincerely believe there are few if any sincerely held beliefs, especially at the corporate level, nor do I believe one can prove a sincerely held belief.

Most of the truly sincere seeming individuals I've come across in life turned out to be sociopaths. But they can look you in the eye with the utmost sincerity.

If corporations can hold sincerely held religious beliefs, what do their deities look like? May I visit Delaware or the Barbados, open a mail drop box and view the Godhead?

Corporate CEO: My sincerely held belief and the sincerely held belief of this corporation is that ..... yes, yes Flanders, what is it?

Flanders: Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but I must tell you that our company's stock price is in free-fall this afternoon and twelve analysts downgraded the stock and Moody's has put us on it's downgrade list.

Corporate CEO: Oh, and why is that?

Flanders: Well, sir, and don't start with the yelling and cursing, but ... well, it's because of our sincerely held beliefs.

Corporate CEO: Yes, yes, alright, Flanders. (Taking one lapel in hand and gazing into the mid-distance with sincere gravitas) Now as I was saying, this corporation and I as its head have sincerely held beliefs, and if you don't like those, we have others.

Flanders: Sir?

CEO (exhaling with exasperation): What now, Flanders?

Flanders: Carl Icahn on the phone for you, sir (then cowering and cringing to protect himself from blows about the head)

There was a great New Yorker cartoon the other week depicting two aliens (little green hedge-fund managers, I expect) just landed on Earth asking the nearest human who they should talk to regarding their offer about buying out Planet Earth.

One can imagine the corporate mergers and acquisitions department of say, Goldman Sachs, probably a bunch of skinny, fit bullies bluetoothing on treadmills, being placed in charge of representing our collective interests in this offer that will seem too good to refuse.

Sayonara, sincerely held beliefs.

The market speaks: Buy low, sell high. Cut your losses.

But I don't think it's likely.

And yet, here we are.

"I think a company will have to prove that it has a sincerely held belief ..."

There are really only two options here. If a company only reflects the beliefs of its owners, then it has no religious beliefs of its own. Which means it cannot claim an excempton from following the law due to "sincerely held religious beliefs".

On the other hand, if the company as a company, indepenedent of its owners, has religious beliefs, then it will have to find some way to demonstrate them. A way which doesn't include whatever the owners happen to believe. For example, it will have to show that it could change its beliefs, without the owners changing theirs. (Other suggestions as to how it could do that are welcome.) If it can do that, then there is a case for giving the company an exemption of 1st amendment grounds. But otherwise....

It makes no more sense to ask about the beliefs of a corporation, but a corporation is nothing more than a tool of its owners, as much as a hammer or a knife is a tool. If the corporation is closely held by owners united in a belief, attributing that belief is just a form of shorthand.

Compelling the owners to do what they think evil using their corporation? No different than forcing them to do it with any other tool.

Sorry about the weird grammar; I entered that on my cell phone. What with my eyes, by the time I've blown up the screen enough to read, I'm only seeing a few words at a time, making editing problematic.

I would add, for the benefit of those who will say, "The Greenes did not have to form a corporation. They voluntarily gave up some control when they did that.", BS.

Virtually every venture larger than a child's lemonade stand is organized as a corporation, and this is not because forming one is fun, or there's some kind of fad. It is because the government, whether or not with intent, has crafted a legal environment where cooperating to accomplish anything is extremely perilous if you don't do it through a corporation. If you mean to do anything that requires people to work together, you must form a corporation, or risk all of you being rendered paupers if any of you are sued, in the government's courts, under the government's laws and doctrines.

The notion that the government can so force everyone to form corporations to do all manner of things, and then take away people's liberty on the basis of having done so, is offensive.

Well, offensive to anybody who doesn't mean to take away people's liberty, anyway.

May we, the polity, compel a corporation to do good?

May we compel them to do cease and desist from doing evil, for example, compelling a corporation or any other entity to stop performing abortions?

I suppose the Court could rule that a corporation is a "person" for purposes of the RFRA and thus entitled to protection on the act, and then rule for Hobby Lobby. Congress could then go back and amend the law and say they were only talking about individuals and that would be that, other than perhaps for sole proprietorships.

I don't think you'll see the Court rule that corporations have first amendment freedom of religion protections the way corporations now have first amendment free speech protections. First, it's not necessary to decide the case since it can be decided under the RFRA.

Second, they could just assume, without deciding, that corporations have such protections and then rule that it doesn't matter because even an individual bringing the same case would lose, under precedent that pre-dates, and gave rise to, the RFRA.

Third, if I understand the current analysis of whether corporations have certain rights under the Constitution, it seems that as applied to religion the argument would fail so even if they were to decide they would decide against Hobby Lobby.

What I don't see is room for some sort of principled "closely held" exception/limitation that would permit such corporations free exercise rights. Why should the number of shareholders matter (if that's what is meant by "closely held")? Perhaps there could be room for some sort of exception if the owners of the legal entity were unanimous in their belief, but that opens a whole host of issues that would need to be addressed and they are not.

But I guess we'll see.

May governments invoke eminent domain to seize land for Transcanada's pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

May they revoke Transcanada's request for eminent domain based on the sincere belief that tar sands excavation contributes to global warming and thus may harm Americans.

Are Good and Evil absolutes or are they relative values, based purely on personal point of view, or the majority's point of view.

Are Good and Evil absolute in their own right or must Brett Bellmore confirm their absolute nature, thus forcing me to abandon my relative view?

And if know my relatives, you'd make a law against them.

And, if I'm not mistaken, Hobby Lobby could refuse to offer health insurance and pay the penalty and be done with it.

I also still don't understand how being required to offer a health insurance plan that covers BC is any different than being required to pay employees cash who may then use said cash to purchase BC. In each case there is an intervening independent actor that decides whether to purchase and use BC.

a corporation is nothing more than a tool of its owners

If you mean to do anything that requires people to work together, you must form a corporation, or risk all of you being rendered paupers if any of you are sued

OK, I found a contradiction.

If I take my hammer and destroy you or your property, I will likely go to jail.

If I take my corporation and destroy you or your property, I will likely not go to jail. Depending on details, nothing whatsoever may happen, to me or anyone. I might even get rich out of the deal.

That is because, as you quite correctly note, corporations exist specifically to shield their owners from liability for what is done in the name of the corporation.

Corporations exist to provide a legal entity which can operate in their owner's interest, but which are specifically NOT their owners.

So, not like any other tool I can think of.

This comment originally went much longer, but it was just devolving into arguing about the same old ahistorical glibertarian horsecrap, and I just don't have the energy to beat my head against that particular wall anymore.

Suffice it to say that if the weather suits you on planet Brett, by all means enjoy the ride, but the rest of us have to deal with reality.

That would be a contradiction, if you had to actually harm somebody to lose a lawsuit.

"Virtually every venture larger than a child's lemonade stand is organized as a corporation, and this is not because forming one is fun, or there's some kind of fad. It is because the government, whether or not with intent, has crafted a legal environment where cooperating to accomplish anything is extremely perilous if you don't do it through a corporation. If you mean to do anything that requires people to work together, you must form a corporation, or risk all of you being rendered paupers if any of you are sued, in the government's courts, under the government's laws and doctrines."

Welp, that's not precisely how the arrangement came about, is it?

Without the government permitting corporations and the individuals working within them this legal confection called a corporation, when they sometimes cause harm to others by their actions, for which they should be held personally responsible through the Courts and lawsuits, I guess it would be up to individuals to seek redress of their grievances on their own and by their own methods.

Without the awful government intervening with its good offices to settle the differences, I'd start with the President of the corporation and work my way down with my AR-15 through the Vice Presidents, individually, until I sincerely believed my grievances had been settled.

You're saying that if a corporate bulldozer knocks down your fence line and perhaps squashes your dog, that the government apparatus ... well, what are you saying?

On the one hand, that without the corporate artifice individuals within the group of people who got together and knocked down your fence are victims because you might seek redress through the Courts, on the other hand, the corporate artifice protects the individuals responsible from your seeking of redress, on the third hand, there should be no legal venue via the government for you to seek redress, and on the fourth hand, get rid of the government legal system altogether and you and your militia will settle it mano-e-mano, and .... I've got as many hands as needed to figure out WTF you are talking about.

That would be a contradiction, if you had to actually harm somebody to lose a lawsuit.

Whether an actual harm is required or not, same/same as regards the differences between what I do with my hammer, and what I do with my corporation.

Folks want to pretend that there's no daylight between corporations and their owners, or corporations and their employees, or corporations and whoever participates in them in whatever role.

They like to maintain that fiction right up until somebody does something stupid or harmful, and someone has to answer for it.

As an aside, it may not have occurred to you that the reason people actually can stand up organizations larger than a lemonade stand is *because* limited liability corporations exist, and that that is the reason they were invented.

Private individuals didn't use to take on large, complex projects as a matter of course, as they do now.

Corporations enable big efforts. Enabling big efforts, things that actually affect a lot of people, comes with a price. The price is that you have to follow the rules.

Don't like the rules, don't play the game.

Freedom ain't free, isn't that the catchphrase?

corporations are
yes they are
they are they are they are
the creations of the Evil State.

is this a necessary Evil ?
that
is
a
good
question

then how can good come from Evil ?

there are chickens
and then
there are eggs

Vegas has them "pick 'em"
but the vig gets you always

Ugh notes, "corporations exist specifically to shield their owners from liability for what is done in the name of the corporation." It would seem to logically follow that, if corporations shield their owners from (legal) liability for what is done in the name of the corporation, they would likewise shield them from morla liability for what is done in the name of the corporation.

After all, if you were morally liable for what a corporation that you own does, you would not want to avoid legal liability either. Right? Or else you think you should avoid financial risk for doing something which was immoral....

I also still don't understand how being required to offer a health insurance plan that covers BC is any different than being required to pay employees cash who may then use said cash to purchase BC

I simply have to say that this, and russells earlier feigned inability to understand the difference, seem to be not arguing in good in good faith. In my view.

The difference is pretty obvious, and when someone keeps denying what is an obvious difference and demanding that someone explain, it just seems...not like those people.

If I pay you and you buy bc then I haven't had any part in that decision. If I provide hc, that covers bc, then I have done something actively to enable something I believe is wrong. That is a point of view that is just as valid as you saying I didn't.

That is NOT a comparable activity to paying a minimum wage or providing safe working conditions. Both of those things are universal and are workplace activities. BC is neither universal or a workplace activity. In fact, neither is hc in general, because it is the government deciding that hc as a specific means of compensation is a requirement. Why noit chickens?

I don't really even have an ox to gore in this fight. As an employer I have no problem wrestling my conscience to the ground while giving unto Caesar etc. As an employee i think it is pretty irrelevant. As a taxpayer I think it is a waste of my tax dollars enforcing it, taking up the courts time or even having Congress spend a lot of time either way.

But it is not "the same".

I'm not following all of this all that closely, but Marty accusing someone else (Russell, in this instance) of "not arguing in good [in good] faith" did raise a welcome chuckle.

Could someone switch off the italics please.

There are some angry theologians on line 1 to 11 to insist that of course giving cash that one knows will be used for sinful purposes is enabling sinful behaviour. If one gives a drunkard money, it does not suffice just to say 'but do not spend it on booze'.
And unless you are one of the guys that thinks 'I am insured against X, so where can I get X in order not to let that go to waste' no one forces the insured to make use of the BC option (although statistically most will do). Actual churches (or church run businesses) can put a clause into the work contract that says 'if you violate our moral code, you're fired' and that includes use of BC. For that reason most churches that oppose BC (but not the very concept of health insurance) will not opt out because they have other means to impose their views on their employees (and to a degree those affiliated with them).
If the religious argument by secular companies is brought up in good faith (which I doubt in the vast majority of cases) then either their theology lacks clarity and consistency or they should call for the 'hire and fire at will' option since they are enablers either directly or indirectly in any case, if the employees make use of 'immoral' options with the benefits (incluidng salary) of their job.
And the argument about taxes does not fly due to the Biblical cop-out of 'render unto Caesar' in combination with 'no government not instituted by the will of God' (even if totally unjust). Of course the Bible is itself not very consistent and neither is the application by churches.

"It would seem to logically follow that, if corporations shield their owners from (legal) liability for what is done in the name of the corporation, they would likewise shield them from morla liability for what is done in the name of the corporation."

No, this does not actually follow. You'd have to lay out the argument more formally for me to identify the actual fallacies involved, but let me point out the most glaring problem with the reasoning:

It presumes the law actually has something to do with morality, such that violating the law implies a violation of morality. Whereas the law is mostly orthogonal to morality these days, and sometimes complying with it is the moral violation.

"There are some angry theologians on line 1 to 11 to insist that of course giving cash that one knows will be used for sinful purposes is enabling sinful behaviour."

But, of course, you have to know or at least strongly suspect this. It's not enough to merely know in a general sense that, if you give somebody money, they might spend it on something immoral. Where as the contraceptive mandate is rather like the government telling you that you have to pay people in a coupon book that includes a coupon for free visit to Sam's House of Immoral Activities, and that you're breaking the law if you remove that coupon.

The crazy thing about the situation is that the government's position is that it's legally ok for Hobby Lobby to not give their employees insurance at all, leaving them objectively much worse off than getting insurance that merely doesn't cover a few types of birth control. It's not really about the well-being of the employees, IOW. It's an almost pure exercise in proving who's the boss.

If I pay you and you buy bc then I haven't had any part in that decision. If I provide hc, that covers bc, then I have done something actively to enable something I believe is wrong.

In both cases, the employer has provided, as part of compensation, the means for the employee to obtain an objectionable form of birth control.

In neither case has the employer participated, in any way shape or form, in the employee's decision to use or not use the objectionable form of birth control.

If having coverage for objectionable (to the Greens) forms of birth control amounts to an endorsement, or at least some kind of tacit acquiescence to the use of, those products, you would have a point.

If your point holds, we should expect the same thing to be applied to vaccinations, transfusions, surgeries of various kinds, use of any kind of medical product derived from pigs, and any number of other things that somebody, somewhere, objects to.

Like you, I have no particular axe to grind in this case, however claiming that Plan B is somehow especially objectionable won't hold. If Hobby Lobby prevails IMO we can expect to see a conga line of private employers queueing up to sue for their favorite exemption.

That is NOT a comparable activity to paying a minimum wage or providing safe working conditions. Both of those things are universal and are workplace activities.

Minimum wage and safe conditions are universal *because laws were passed to make them so*, and no other reason whatsoever.

Absent the meddling interference of Big Intrusive Government they would not exist.

Safe working conditions are a workplace activity. Minimum wage is not, it's a legal constraint on the terms of compensation.

Why noit chickens?

Because nobody wants chickens as part of their compensation. Or at least, not enough people to make it happen.

I personally am not bothered either way if Hobby Lobby gets an exemption. What bugs me about this case is that, if Hobby Lobby prevails, it will establish that yet another inalienable right belongs not uniquely to human beings, but to for-profit corporations as legal "persons".

You can sell me on the idea that rights pertaining to property can reasonably be extended to corporations, because they are actually capable of owning property.

Corporations are not capable of having a religious conscience. There is no corporate organ - no corporate mind or soul - capable of conceiving such a thing.

To argue the idea, you have to take the tack that corporations and their owners are indistinguishable. That's a popular view, but it ignores what corporations are, and why they exist in the first place.

Basically, it's a form of wanting to have your cake and eat it to. Nice work if you can get it, but not all of the rest of us want to put up with it.

Where as the contraceptive mandate is rather like the government telling you that you have to pay people in a coupon book that includes a coupon for free visit to Sam's House of Immoral Activities, and that you're breaking the law if you remove that coupon.

This is a not-bad analogy.

You need to extend it slightly, so that "you" are not paying the employees, a for-profit business that you own and operate is.

The range of things that J-random somebody might consider to be an Immoral Activity is pretty broad. Are they all fair game now? If not, what's special about birth control? If the government grants exemptions for birth control but not, for example, transfusions, isn't that an establishment of religion?

The recognition of 1st Amendment rights of freedom of religion in a for-profit corporation because its owners have a particular religious viewpoint is equally problematic. How "closely held" does the corporation have to be in order for the owners' conscience to be recognized in the corporation? Can publicly traded companies whose governance, but not ownership, is very closely held also qualify?

If not, why not? Isn't governance a more important factor in what companies actually *do* than ownership, per se?

How many religious principles must be observed in the operation of the corporation before it can be said to be "run according to Biblical principles"? If it's not run, consistently, according to those principles, in all of its operations, why should those principles suddenly be grounds for an exemption regarding mandates on employee compensation?

What percentage of the owners have to share the same convictions before those convictions can be said to belong to the corporation? Fifty percent? Ninety percent? All-but-one owner?

Do other stakeholders get to play? If I lend $100K to a small business startup, can I suddenly dictate the makeup of the employee's compensation package based on my religious convictions?

If you are looking for a situation where "drawing lines" is a recipe for insanity, parsing the line where "owner / operator" and "corporation" are one and the same, or not, will do very nicely.

Whereas the contraceptive mandate..

Whoa right there. There is no mandate.

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2014/03/more-on-the-contraception-non-mandate

It is because the government, whether or not with intent, has crafted a legal environment where cooperating to accomplish anything is extremely perilous if you don't do it through a corporation. If you mean to do anything that requires people to work together, you must form a corporation, or risk all of you being rendered paupers if any of you are sued, in the government's courts, under the government's laws and doctrines.

For my sins, apparently, I find that I have to come back to this comment of Brett's.

The government has not created an environment where it's extremely perilous to undertake large, complicated projects. It is *inherently perilous* to undertake large, complicated projects. The greater the complexity and scale, the harder it is to fully understand and predict all possible risks and complications.

The government, by which we mean a wide range of governments, operating in a wide variety of places and times extending around the world and for centuries, has employed the limited liability concept as a way of *mitigating the inherent difficulty and risk* and taking on large and complex projects.

It is true that the government, by which we mean the same thing we just meant a moment ago except for "centuries" please substitute "millenia", has established laws and doctrines, and courts in which those laws and doctrines are applied and adjudicated. And, again, that was done not to lay an oppressive burden upon the people at large, but to provide a somewhat rational and acceptable alternative to blood feuds and mass violence and anarchy.

That's the history, in the real world, in real life. You can look it up.

If I pay you and you buy bc then I haven't had any part in that decision. If I provide hc, that covers bc, then I have done something actively to enable something I believe is wrong. That is a point of view that is just as valid as you saying I didn't.

If these points of view are equally valid, why do you think anyone is arguing in bad faith? Or are you saying you're arguing bad faith as much as anyone else?


BC is neither universal or a workplace activity. In fact, neither is hc in general, because it is the government deciding that hc as a specific means of compensation is a requirement.

One can agree with this and still support a penalty for failing to provide an insurance plan that covers birth control. Within the overall health-insurance requirement, which is a given - the context in which the requirement to cover birth control as preventive medicine exists - there's are perfecty logical and reasonable purposes for the coverage. One, which seems to be ignored again and again, is that birth control is used for a number of medical conditions having nothing to do with preventing pregnancy. Another is that it's cheaper to provide birth control than to cover unwanted - or even unplanned - pregnancies.

McKinney brought up, in another thread, the idea of attenuation as far as religious beliefs go.

To be the owner of a corporation, or whatever sort of business, which provides health insurance to its employees, which covers birth control, should an employee choose to use it, is not remotely like the owner either using birth control, or directly providing birth control to one of his or her employees, or advising an employee to use birth control.

They simply aren't involved in that decision. If that's not good enough, pay the penalty, if that's easier on your conscience.

"One can agree with this and still support a penalty for failing to provide an insurance plan that covers birth control."


One can, and I am ok with it. I just don't believe that it is realistic to dismiss the other side of the argument because it is the "same thing" as minimum wage laws. Because it isn't. remotely. the same.

I haven't seen so many arguments stretching what "might" happen next since Republicans were pushing the single payer slippery slope against ACA.

BC and abortion all wrapped into this discussion are different than any other example given here, by a lot.

And, as far as I can tell, almost everyone supports using the bc medicines to treat medical conditions of the women. Different subject, not a problem of anyone's conscience.

Makes the discussion, again to my other point, ludicrous. No one will be monitoring why the doctor prescribed the medicine, they simply recode the insurance form and everyone is happy.

No one will be monitoring why the doctor prescribed the medicine, they simply recode the insurance form and everyone is happy.

I would consider that belief quite naive. Busybodies will try to do exactly that legally or extralegally and there is ample precedent for that (not just in the US).

you have to know or at least strongly suspect this. It's not enough to merely know in a general sense that, if you give somebody money, they might spend it on something immoral.

But if I don't know or strongly suspect that you are going to do this, then the fact that the insurance policy happens to provide it as an option is irrelevant. After all, if you buy a gun, you could use it to murder someone. But (in the same "don't know or strongly suspect" circumstance) that doesn't make it immoral for me to sell it to you, does it?

What percentage of the owners have to share the same convictions before those convictions can be said to belong to the corporation? Fifty percent? Ninety percent? All-but-one owner?

Let's look at this from the other direction. Is it immoral, if you are opposed to contraception on religious grounds, for you to own stock in any corporation whose health plan includes paying for that? Including any stock index tracking fund which owns stock in such a corporation? Or are is your ownership only relevant if you own controlling interest in the company?

Not at all. As Marty points out, nobody objects to the particular drugs if they're prescribed for an actual medical treatment, only if prescribed for BC/abortion. So it's more like the government insisting that I pay somebody to hire a hitman, than that I pay them for buying a gun they might use for self defense or target shooting.

As Marty points out, nobody objects to the particular drugs if they're prescribed for an actual medical treatment, only if prescribed for BC/abortion.

That is a factually false statement. There is vocal opposition to the substances themselves because they CAN be used for the purpose of BC and doctors are suspected to prescribe them under false pretenses (as they did when BC was still illegal).

"So it's more like the government insisting that I pay somebody to hire a hitman, than that I pay them for buying a gun they might use for self defense or target shooting."

Is that what it's like?

I thought it was more like George Zimmerman neglecting to inquire of Trayvon Martin whether the latter was conceived via the rhythm method before the former stalked him.

Hartmut,

I knew that nobody wasn't quite true. It is a truly small vocal minority. And I am pretty sure it is no one here.

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