Tuesday, March 31, 2015

We are The Business. Litigation is Futile!

"You know the score, pal. If you're not cop, you're little people". - Bryant, Blade Runner

So the current kerfuffle is the Hoosier RFRA. (Did you know that, in Russian, 'hoosier' sounds the same as 'worse'?) The claim is that this strictly for religious protection. The law is not for religious protection.  As pointed out in an Atlantic Monthly article:

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.
What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Storesin which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage.
Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. WillockIn that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply "because the government is not a party."
Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.  Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.
In other words, this is the continuing attempt, following Citizens United, to make sure that the United States of America is safe for business, and that corporations continue to be more equal than citizens.

This isn't about gay discrimination. An Indiana business can make up ANY horseshit religious excuse to keep from getting sued, for whatever reason (including, probably and more importantly, labor disputes).

1 comment:

  1. just wait til some christian gets denied service. the shit will hit the fan.