Sandra Fluke: 'Corporations Cannot Have Religious Views'

Sandra Fluke sounds the alarm over "potentially catastrophic" Hobby Lobby case

Social justice attorney Sandra Fluke, now running for California State Senate, sounded the alarm Tuesday about the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, which pits the religious objections of the owners of corporations against Obamacare’s “contraception mandate.” In an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Fluke called the case a “potential catastrophe for women’s rights,” arguing that “corporations cannot have religious views” and a rule in the favor of religious objections would set America on a dangerous course. 

USA Today reports that the first day of the hearings did not bode well for those who champion the Obamacare contraception mandate, as the Obama administration struggled to present its case to the justices, a majority of whom appeared inclined to protect the religious freedoms of organizations.

Anticipating the difficult road ahead of the mandate, Sandra Fluke, who made a name for herself in part by arguing for birth control coverage in front of Congress in 2012 (but more so because she consequently became the subject of a rather untactful Rush Limbaugh monologue), took to the microphone again, this time via The Washington Post. She began her piece by predicting doom if the religious interests of the corporations were upheld:  

A pair of potentially catastrophic cases will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. These cases are brought by privately held, for-profit corporations that are arguing their religious convictions should preclude them from offering employees the health insurance required by law. Specifically, these private employers don’t want to allow their employees’ insurance to cover some forms of birth control because, contrary to medical and scientific evidence, they believe some birth control causes abortions.

Many, of course, do not believe the distinction between some forms of birth control and abortion is so clear. Regardless, Fluke’s central argument is that it is dangerous and unconstitutional to afford corporations the rights of individuals:

Corporations are not people. Corporations cannot have religious views. If religious rights are extended to corporations, it puts us on a slippery slope where any private company could argue that religious beliefs prevent it from offering vital employee protections.

Realizing that her 2012 congressional testimony had nothing to do with corporations, focused as it was on Georgetown University, a Catholic-affiliated school, Fluke attempted to address the obvious clash with her previous argument:

Unlike my congressional testimony in 2012, which was about Georgetown University — a Catholic-affiliated university — refusing to include contraception in student insurance because it was a religiously affiliated school, the institutions arguing before the Supreme Court are not houses of worship or religious non-profits. The Affordable Care Act already includes special arrangements for those types of organizations. These are private, for-profit corporations — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — that want to be excluded from health insurance and employment laws because of bosses’ personal views.

Having now incidentally highlighted that she is against any institution, whether it be a privately-owned corporation or religiously-affiliated organization, from refusing to fund benefits that stand in direct opposition to their religious beliefs, Fluke continued on by hammering the corporations-aren’t-people argument, pointing to the danger of setting what she deems to be a new precedent:

Laws that include religious protection have never given corporations the right to have religious views, and it would be a terrible idea to make such an enormous change to our legal precedent now. Our laws protect individuals’ private religious beliefs, but when you cross over into the public sphere to become a corporation and make a profit off of the public, you must abide by the public’s laws.

The outcome of the cases, she argues, could be the denial of "all forms of birth control" to millions of women, “limiting women’s ability to control their reproductive health, plan their pregnancies and manage their lives.” 

In the Supreme Court hearing Tuesday, however, Fluke’s argument against the religious freedoms of corporations was flatly rejected by Antonin Scalia, who stated, “There is not a single case which says that a for-profit enterprise cannot make a freedom-of-religion claim.”