Ruth Bader Ginsburg sure knows how to pack a wallop when writing a legal opinion. In what has been described as a scathing dissent in the Hobby Lobby case, Ginsberg blasted the Supreme Kangaroo Court’s legislation from the bench.
The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would override significant interests of the corporations’ employees and covered dependents. It would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure. See Catholic Charities of Sacramento, Inc. v. Superior Court, 32 Cal. 4th 527, 565, 85 P. 3d 67, 93 (2004) (“We are unaware of any decision in which . . . [the U. S. Supreme Court] has exempted a religious objector from the operation of a neutral, generally applicable law despite the recognition that the requested exemption would detrimentally affect the rights of third parties.”). In sum, with respect to free exercise claims no less than free speech claims, “‘[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’” Chafee, Freedom of Speech in War Time, 32 Harv. L. Rev. 932, 957 (1919).
Ouch. Can’t you just feel the bitch-slapping she just handed down? Ginsburg continues:
Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law, whether under the Free Exercise Clause or RFRA.13 The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is “an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 636 (1819). Corporations, Justice Stevens more recently reminded, “have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires.” Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U. S. 310, 466 (2010) (opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part).
Now, this is absolutely, undeniably true. Corporations are not now nor have they ever been persons in any real sense of the word, being entirely what the majority opinion concurs is a strictly “legal fiction“.
Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations. See 42 U. S. C. §§2000e(b), 2000e–1(a), 2000e–2(a); cf. Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison, 432 U. S. 63, 80–81 (1977) (Title VII requires reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious exercise, but such accommodation must not come “at the expense of other[ employees]”). The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention.17 One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.
There’s no need to wonder why. The answer is pretty clear given the track record of the court’s five most right-wing judges: they will deliberately misinterpret the law, the Constitution, and even English dictionaries, in order to uphold the inviolable power of corporations over actual human beings.
I could quote endlessly from Ginsburg’s dissent, but read it for yourself. Here’s a copy of the full court opinion and dissent. Ginsburg’s starts on page sixty-five.