So If a Corporation is A Person, and A Person Has Rights…


Then why does the government argue in court that a secular corporation doesn’t have rights?

Joe Six-Pack doesn’t know, but it seems awfully strange given the Supreme Courts rulings about corporate personhood, and the rights thereunto pertaining. The Citizens United case comes to my mind.

This is what dislodged the thought above in my very average brain,

DETROIT, MI – On Friday, September 28, 2012, Federal District Judge Robert H. Cleland, of the Eastern District of Michigan, heard oral arguments in Thomas More Law Center’s (TMLC) motion for Preliminary Injunction to stop implementation of the HHS mandate. Judge Cleland heard arguments and fully engaged attorneys on both sides in the 2.5 hour long hearing.

TMLC’s Lead Counsel Erin Mersino presented TMLC’s argument on behalf of Plaintiffs, Legatus, Weingartz Supply, Inc., and its owner and President Dan Weingartz. Ethan Davis, attorney for U. S. Department of Justice, gave the Government’s argument.

TMLC attorney Erin Mersino presented a forceful argument supporting Plaintiffs’ claims that the HHS Mandate violates their religious freedom. Mersino noted, “On January 1st, our clients will have 2 choices: violate the law and incur steep penalties or violate their conscience. We are hopeful that the Court will render a decision that protects religious freedom and our rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

The Government attorney, on the other hand, argued that because Weingartz was a secular corporation it had no constitutional right to free exercise of religion or free speech. The Government also contended that the organization Legatus lacked standing, as the group was a non-profit company potentially eligible for a one year safe-harbor from the law.

Judge Cleland told both sides that whatever ruling he grants, the case will continue to be litigated. He pressed the Government’s attorney as to whether or not the Plaintiffs in their motion for preliminary injunction faced ‘imminent harm’. Judge Cleland noted that come January 1, 2013 “the axe is going to fall on Weingartz,” referring to the fact that after January 1, 2013 Weingartz will be subject to fines of $2,000 per employee, which for Weingartz amounts to a fine of $340,000 annually.

Read the rest. Legal eagles, sea lawyers, and arm-chair quarter-backs want to know. Because corporations, regardless if they are ‘secular’ or not, have Constitutional rights, as SCOTUS found in the Citizens United case,

Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast.

But what do I know? Stay tuned.

  • Christopher Braun

    It seems to me that non-persons have no tax liability. How do you tax nothing? Does a rock or a tree pay taxes? On the other hand, an organization is composed of individuals who do have rights, including the right to association and freedom of religion. They may not be forced, individually or collectively, to violate their religious beliefs.

  • http://blog.timesunion.com/bread Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Ah, the dignity of the human… corporation. *sigh*

    • Frank Weathers

      Just another one of those things that we’ve written into the laws, Fran. Of course, the Church is a person too. :)

      • Andy

        A couple of things
        1. The Supreme Court said corporations had the right of free speech through their money as do persons – so it is not written into our laws – a misguided ruling that I think we will all regret
        2. If a corporation is a perso it has a soul, and for the most part the corporations I have dealt with have not displayed a soul.
        3. This requirement has been around since 2000 and no one has fought it before now – why?

        • Frank Weathers

          Andy, you can read Nana’s comment and give this a listen/read as well.

          • Nana

            Sorry, I didn’t nest my last comment. The point is that we do not punish people for being successful, that we do not violate their rights when they build a business.

  • Nana

    Corporate personhood has been in place since Trustees of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward – 17 U.S. 518 (1819) [http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/17/518/case.html], was headnoted with SCOTUS in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad – 118 U.S. 394 (1886) [http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/118/394/case.html], made precedent in Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania – 125 U.S. 181 (1888) [http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/125/181/case.html] , and reaffirmed many times in subsequent years.

  • Erika

    Thank you for discussing this. I am shocked at how little coverage and discussion is going on publically in this extremely important matter regarding religious liberty!


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