By Todd Welch
In the Herald’s Tuesday editorial, “Court tilts against precedent”, I am most concerned with the lack of knowledge by the editorial staff of the responsibility of the Supreme Court or just ignore it. The Supreme Court’s responsibility is to rule on the constitutionality of the case at hand; the race, religion, age, sex, or any other demographic of the justices is irrelevant.
The idea that the Supreme Court gives a for-proft corporation religious protection is per 1 U.S. Code Sect 1, “the words ‘person’ and ‘whoever’ include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals.” The definition of person, includes corporations because they are made up of people and people have the right to assembly; a right given to us by the Constitution. I realize that to the editorial staff of the Herald, the only part of the Constitution that is relevant is freedom of speech (for them), but there are other rights that are mentioned. If a corporation or company did not have rights as a person, then if you sued a corporaton, you would have to sue each shareholder or each individual owner.
Regarding Hobby Lobby decision, Justice Alito wrote, “The contraceptive mandate, as applied to closely held corporations, violates RFRA. Our decision on that statutory question makes it unnecessary to reach the First Amendment claim raised by Conestoga and the Hahns.” So, the idea of freedom of religion was not even decided on. Two questions are considered in the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is supposed to prohibit “Government (from) substantially burden(ing) a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” To deny exceptions, the government must demonstrate the “compelling governmental interest” of the act, along with demonstrating that it is the “least restrictive” means to do so.
The majority determined that the contraception coverage was “compelling governmental interest” but denied that Health and Human Services had demonstrated the Afffordability Care Act mandate to be the “least restrictive” method achieving that goal. Concluding, it states, “Our responsibility is to enforce RFRA as written, and under the standard that RFRA prescribes, the HHS contraceptive mandate is unlawful.”
The Supreme Court decision does not open floodgates of corporate owners to deny life-saving medical procedures, or does not prevent corporations from not hiring someone due to religious beliefs, since we have other laws regarding Equal Employment Opportunity.
It is unfortunate that the editorial staff would rather push a “War on Women” narrative instead of actually looking at the merits of the court”s actual decision and it’s constitutionality. It is a scary prospect when we put emotion and political bias in constitutional decisions. Political power shifts every few years, but the Constitution stands as a rock against the ever movement of the political establishment. Our nation remains the greatest on Earth due to the document that established us as the nation of freedom, of laws, and of the people.
Todd Welch lives in Lake Stevens.