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I think there's some excellent support in the Bible for the idea that food should be given to the hungry, clothes to the naked, etc., which I believe translates to a general societal obligation to improve the lots of those toward the bottom of the income/wealth distribution. I feel like there's a lot less detail in the Bible about what sorts of birth control are acceptable.

Naturally, there are five members of the Supreme Court who feel a lot more comfortable about regulating birth control with respect to religious beliefs than regulating tax rates. (I'm just guessing here, but I suspect if I tried to bring a lawsuit against the US government because its tax rates violate my sincerely-held religious beliefs that there should be much less income inequality in the nation, I'd be shot down very fast.)

Of course, my diary title is a bit of strawman, but I think it's a useful strawman for a couple reasons:

1) Really, the basic gist of the Hobby Lobby decision appears to be that closely-held corporations are entitled to take certain actions based on certain Christian beliefs.

As Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself said in her dissent, "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."

And the thing is, the majority opinion has takes pains to point that only some sincerely-held religious beliefs will count. So what are the odds that non-Christian beliefs would be held to the Hobby Lobby standard? Again, just guessing here, but I'm going to peg the probability of that as very low.

2) There will be people who claim that their beliefs are different than mine, so how can the court be expected to rationally make a case that the whole country should be subject to my religious beliefs? My answer -- as much as I'd like to be able to win a lawsuit that makes the top marginal tax rate some appropriately high number -- is that that this is an area the Court needs to stay out of.

That last point goes both ways, of course. If people don't want to have their sincerely-held religious beliefs violated by regulation on business, those people are free to sell or otherwise divest themselves from the business -- that's the freedom of speech they're entitled to.  

Otherwise their religious rights run the risk of trampling over others' sincerely-held religious beliefs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope the SCOTUS gets flooded with repercussions (4+ / 0-)

    and they will be. There are a lot of religious philosophies out there, and some of them have a lot of variance with the kind of things that the SCOTUS five favour.

    There will be atheist/scientology/jewish/muslim owned companies that may insist on things the SCOTUS may not much care for. Conversely, some of the kookier Christian owned businesses may say they can't participate in any information collecting activities (2 Samuel 24.)

    We'll see if this is Bush v. Gore II, where they know they've made bad law, and do a poor job of containing the fall out.

    Rick Perry - the greatest scientist since Galileo!

    by Bobs Telecaster on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 04:22:38 PM PDT

  •  you wouldn't have standing for your tax suit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Navy Vet Terp, Gooserock

    It would also fail on the merits, since the court has held there's no 1A right to avoid tax.

    •  I mean, yeah (4+ / 0-)

      I acknowledged that the lawsuit angle is a bit of strawman. But it shares some parallels to Hobby Lobby -- both involve money being used to pay for something viewed as religiously offensive in exchange for the money.  So why should Hobby Lobby's complaint be treated any differently than my complaint?

      (I know, it's because the suing the government doesn't work too well, in part because of that whole standing issue. There are probably better examples of my point that don't involve suing the government and for which I'd have much better standing. However, in the end the particulars of a potential lawsuit are not really the main takeaway I'm intending here.)

      (And as a point of fact, my strawman lawsuit would be meant to make at least the filthy rich pay a lot more. So avoiding tax wouldn't be an issue.)  

      •  Regarding taxes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The majority opinion brings up US v Lee, a 1982 case in which the Court held that an Amish employer could not claim a religious exemption from Social Security taxes.

        Lee was a free-exercise, not a RFRA, case, but if the issue in Lee were analyzed under the RFRA framework, the fundamental point would be that there simply is no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes. Because of the enormous variety of government expenditures funded by tax dollars, allowing taxpayers to withhold a portion of their tax obligations on religious grounds would lead to chaos. Recognizing exemptions from the contraceptive mandate is very different. ACA does not create a large national pool of tax revenue for use in purchasing healthcare coverage. Rather, individual employers like the plaintiffs purchase insurance for their own employees. And contrary to the principal dissent's characterization, the employers' contributions do not necessarily funnel into "undifferentiated funds." Post, at 23. The accommodation established by HHS requires issuers to have a mechanism by which to "segregate premium revenue collected from the eligible organization from the monies used to provide payments for contraceptive services." 45 CFR §147.131(c)(2)(ii) . Recognizing a religious accommodation under RFRA for particular coverage requirements, therefore, does not threaten the viability of ACA's comprehensive scheme in the way that recognizing religious objections to particular expenditures from general tax revenues would
        Their reasoning seems to be that the government should accommodate religious beliefs when there is an acceptable mechanism to do so and that there is no such mechanism for a person who objects to paying taxes.
    •  Although... (4+ / 0-)

      Is there any good reason that Hobby Lobby should have been granted standing? How does this law harm them in a way that an employee going out to purchase "immoral" birth control with money from a Hobby Lobby paycheck doesn't? Either way, Hobby Lobby would be funding it.

      (I'm not lawyer, so I'm mostly approaching this from a common sense perspective, which I know is not always going to be in line with a legal perspective.)

  •  It is my closely held religious belief that war (6+ / 0-)

    profiteering is immoral and needs to be banned around the world. The military industrial complex may be necessary at a level but it should not be very profitable. I believe top executive compensation should be limited to $3 million a year and heavily taxed (75% marginal rate or better) if exceeded. Nobody should be able to get insanely rich on waging war.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 04:39:23 PM PDT

  •  We need to start our own churches and then (6+ / 0-)

    create our own corporations.

    If humans become corporations then we can become people. As corporate people we can have our churches decide what laws are in compliance with our religious beliefs.

    If churches incorporate will they become people?
    Will incorporate churches have to register for the draft when they turn 18? Does this only apply to male incorporated churches? How do we sex a church?

    If we rule that the draft is in violation of our corporate religious beliefs then will draft-dodging be OK?

    Is this confusing the socks off you?

  •  A friend of mine has a small business (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (about five employees, but incorporated) and is also an Official Minister of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    He's looking for religious exemption ideas.

    I am willing to pass on suggestions.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Mon Jun 30, 2014 at 08:11:38 PM PDT

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