So we've just celebrated Independence Day. It's a big hairy deal. The pains it took to throw off another government and then dream up a new country, create a system that would allow for self governance -- "We the people" -- came at a great cost.
Many of our "Founding Fathers" didn't sign the Declaration, but like the signers they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause. Some died fighting for the cause and trusted the men they fought along side to see it through so their lives and struggles wouldn't be wasted. It was worth it to them.
I've spent a lot of time reading letters between George Washington and Brigadier General William Woodford. Yeah, I got caught up in Ancestry.com and got sucked in by a great great great plus grandfather and his story.
They spent time discussing their cause extensively. In one letter Washington wrote to Woodford he referred to it as "this glorious struggle."
In the light of the holiday and recent Supreme Court decisions, I've
spent some time wondering how these founders, those who lived and died for this democracy, would see the many rights they lived and died for being squandered away on corporations by the Roberts Court.
In January 2010, the Court made the worst decision since Dred Scott in granting "freedom of speech" to corporations in the Citizens United v FEC case. That's why your tv box is lit from morning til night with campaign ads. "Money is speech" and corporate money has the same right as what was in your grandmother's kitchen coffee can - except it's virtually endless. Oh, and the corporation doesn't have to be American. Not having the right to vote doesn't mean you can't buy an election now.
So what are we as citizens? Three fifths of a company?
This week the same court decided that corporations can now have religion. Hobby Lobby, a store that sells craft supplies largely made in China, decided it was against their religion to pay for IUD's and Plan B. The basic biology of how these birth controls work is lost on them. Preventing pregnancy is considered abortion by some people who base their closely held religious beliefs on something other the science.
Oh, and before you say this decision is only for closely-held corporations, some of those corporations have more than 100,000 employees -- as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out in her dissent.
Apparently saying your company operates "in a manner consistent with Biblical principles" is enough for five justices to agree that you can opt out of having your female employees health care to include whatever birth control you don't understand.
Maybe Hobby Lobby should have to prove their "Biblical principles" across the board. You know, like divesting the millions in their retirement fund which they have invested in the pharmaceutical companies that make the drugs they soooo protest. Wait! Those drugs make money! Oh... never mind.
Or what about all the Chinese labor conditions that human beings have to endure to make the knick-knack-paddy-crap that they sell in their stores? Or what about doing business in China at all? At the same time Hobby Lobby was filing their case an international story was on the front page everywhere that should have given them pause. A Chinese woman who became pregnant with her second child without government permission was arrested. She was seven months pregnant and when her family couldn't pay the $6,000 fine officials gave her an injection that killed the baby. She delivered a stillborn in police custody and was then released. Where were Hobby Lobby's religious beliefs then?
Right. The profit margins are too good to pass up.
Before Obamacare, Hobby Lobby had no problem covering the birth control they ended up suing over. This isn't about "Biblical principles." This is about politics, and economics. The Green family who owns the chain was approached by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who wanted them to sue over the federal mandate to cover women's reproductive health.
Now companies have the right to force their religious beliefs on their employees. Well, how's that going to work out? Can a Jehovah's Witness boss decide he won't cover blood transfusions for workers because his religion doesn't believe in them? Can a Scientologist say psychiatric treatments are bogus and refuse to cover? What about an evangelical opting out of paying for your second wife's healthcare altogether because divorce was frowned upon in the Bible and he thinks you're an adulterer. How many employers are going to have a "Come to Jesus" moment if it means they can save money from covering the healthcare of their workers? Who isn't allowed to have a deeply held religious belief?
I don't remember Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of corporations. They don't, and won't, meet Saint Peter at the Pearly Gate when they go bankrupt. Chapter 11 is what they call it when a corporation is trying to be born again with their transgressions forgiven. Corporations don't marry -- they merge. They don't have offspring, they have franchises and spin offs.
Our Founders wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are certainly different values than those we see in corporate charters -- Incorporation, Profits and the pursuit of Larger Markets. The Creator granted the Declaration's rights to the created, which did not include corporations. Granting these rights to non-person entities is a slippery slope we all must struggle for footing on.
It will be a glorious struggle.
Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.
By SHANNYN MOORE