Contraceptive Mandate: Do corporations have the people’s rights?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Contraceptive Mandate
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The “Supreme Court of the United States” (SCOTUS) blog has a lot more about this case and will include updates this week. Click the logo to visit the blog.

The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearings this week on the contraceptive mandate—the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to include birth control in their insurance plans. Several issues are in play—all have to do with values.

One issue is this: Do corporations have religious rights? Are they “people”?

Churches and religious groups are exempt from the contraceptive mandate, meaning that they don’t have to provide this coverage if it violates religious principles. The cases the high court considers this week involve secular corporations whose owners object to the mandate on religious grounds. The companies are Hobby Lobby (owned through a trust by evangelical Christians) and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation (owned by a Mennonite family).

Similar cases heard in federal courts around the country have produced conflicting decisions, which is why this challenge to the Affordable Care Act has risen to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An argument preview on the Supreme Court of the United States blog presents one of the core issues: “At the level of their greatest potential, the two cases raise the profound cultural question of whether a private, profit-making business organized as a corporation can ‘exercise’ religion and, if it can, how far that is protected from government interference… In a manner of speaking, these issues pose the question — a topic of energetic debate in current American political and social discourse — of whether corporations are ‘people.’ The First Amendment protects the rights ‘of the people,’ and the … law protects the religious rights of ‘persons.’ Do profit-making companies qualify as either?”

Do corporations have religious rights?

Are corporations “people”?

How would you decide the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases?

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  1. Ramblin Rob says

    Corporations are not people. The question however is not about the corporation but about the corporation providing insurance to the employee. Insurance of any type is a benefit, you may accept it or reject it. The corporation does not offer the insurance to the customer only to the employee. Thus why is a nonreligious corporation requesting religious principles be applied to their employees? There are many things one may not like but don’t ask for privileges that are not yours to request. Ramblin Rob

  2. Mary Ceccanese says

    Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” recently wrote the following: “I used to own the letter that President Thomas Jefferson penned in February 1809 to the Methodist Episcopal Church of New London, Conn. (The Greens — owners of Hobby Lobby — now own it because I wanted them to have it.) In that letter, Jefferson thundered, ‘No provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.’ My prayer is that the Supreme Court will agree with Jefferson.”

    A corporation is an entity but it is owned by people. Those people should not be forced to do something that violates their constitutional rights. A woman’s right to choose abortifacient contraception is not a “health need” or requirement — it is a choice. I am not required to take vitamin pills or a mammogram or novocaine at the dentist, for that matter — nor do I wish anyone to “force” me to. That is my choice — it is not an entitlement.

    Forcing me to do something that is against my value system does not strengthen our country. If anything, it takes away the rights guaranteed by our forefathers and our constitution.