MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

July 7, 2014

Court grants corporations human rights

The Supreme Court is heading down a frightening path and should apply the brakes.

The justices have set a scary precedent by assigning rights that Americans hold dear to corporations. The court has shown a willingness to elevate an inanimate organization, a building, above the rights of natural humans.

The recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case holds that closely held corporations have religious rights. The court ruled earlier in the Citizens United case that corporations have free speech rights.

Saying the ruling is limited to closely held corporations is deceiving. Most American corporations, including many large ones, are closely held.

The owners of Hobby Lobby absolutely have the right to object to purchasing contraception for anyone. No one should be able to force those individuals to do something that violates their freedom of religion.

Corporations, however, are not their owners. We are not talking about a sole proprietorship or a partnership here.

Webster’s says a corporation is a legal entity that exists independently of the person or persons who have been granted the charter creating it.

Corporations are a useful but artificial legal construct to insulate owners from certain risks and obligations, to operate independently for contractual, tax and other business advantages.

You won’t find a corporation sitting next to you in the church pew. A corporation can’t kneel at the pew or go down for baptism.

Corporations cast no ballot. Corporations do not give birth and do not need medical care or contraception.

Regardless of your opinion on the Hobby Lobby or Citizens United case, you should be concerned that the highest court in the land is now granting artificial entities the same rights as natural humans. And you should be concerned that, in the Hobby Lobby case, the majority held that the religious rights of a fictional body were more significant than their effect on its employees.

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