Corporate world scared silly that Hobby Lobby will win ACA suit

You’ve seen coverage here on the Hobby Lobby case that just came before the Supreme Court.

For example, a few days ago our own David Delmar wrote (my emphasis):

A legal look at Hobby Lobby’s ridiculous “freedom of religion” argument

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Hobby Lobby case. In a recent post, I discussed one of the two primary issues the Court is considering: whether or not for-profit corporations have the right to freely exercise religion.

The other, more intuitive issue is whether the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, which applies to relatively large corporations that employ more than fifty people, infringes on the free exercise rights of religious corporations, should the Court determine that those corporations have such rights at all.

Importantly, the corporations that have brought suit in the case — Hobby Lobby and Mardel — elected not to challenge the contraceptive mandate explicitly on First Amendment grounds, and have instead based their case on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. …

The essential question in this case is whether the RFRA, channeling the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, immunizes a corporation from a legal obligation that arguably conflicts with the religious faith of the person running, or owning, the organization.

Hobby Lobby photo via DangApricot. Pope clothes via Shutterstock (Maxisport / Shutterstock.com)

Hobby Lobby photo via DangApricot. Pope clothes via Shutterstock (Maxisport / Shutterstock.com)

Keep that last bit in mind. It’s not the religious views of the corporation — those obviously don’t exist. It’s the religious faith of the owners or in-place operators (CEOs).

Delmar goes on to deconstruct this argument; you can read the rest here. But this opens a huge door that corporate law and the concept of corporations were created to keep closed. Hobby Lobby, if they win, will succeed in reconnecting the corporation with the owners.

“Piercing the corporate veil”

This is just the point that successful trial lawyer (and Ring of Fire radio host) Mike Papantonio makes on a recent appearance on the Ed Schultz Show. He says at the start of his response that the case will “fail on the constitutional issue.” But he also says that the case is so toxic to the concept of “separation of corporation and owner” that there have been zero amicus briefs filed in support of it by corporate America. None.

Listen as Papantonio explains (h/t Man from Wasichustan at DailyKos for the video):

As Papantonio says, the case “would pierce the corporate veil” and allow lawsuits against corporate owners to go forward for deeds done by their corporations. Furthermore:

At the heart of this, what you have is, you have Hobby Lobby saying, “We’re a corporation but we’re a devout Christian corporation. … If you follow that rationale, the separateness that usually distinguishes the owner of the corporation from the corporation [itself] is then destroyed. …

[So] If this thing passes, you’re going to see me suing corporations, saying there’s no distinction between your owner and you — so you, Mr. Green, who owns Hobby Lobby, I’m going to bring you into the case, and you’re not going to have any separate protection, any indemnification between you and your corporation.

He says much the same that’s true about this case is true about Citizens United, and that there will be test cases on that issue as well.

Can’t wait. Again, listen. It’s not long, and it’s fascinating.

Your bottom line — look for SCOTUS, or as the Daily Kos diarist says, swing Justice Kennedy — to deny the plaintiff. My bottom line — I really hope Hobby Lobby wins, even if they don’t win on those grounds. This is just too far, and sometimes things need to go too far to come apart. As I’ve said before, their hubris is your friend, and we really need to begin to dismantle these predators.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius. Facebook: Gaius Publi.

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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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