There is a problem with people who use their political leanings rather than legal doctrine and procedure being judges, that is they come up with piss poor legal decisions.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. ___
(2014) will turn out to be yet another of the US Supreme Court's recent
blunders because it used political leanings rather than legal method.
The concept that a corporation is a distinct entity with its own rights
and obligations separate from those of its shareholders is the
foundational principle of corporate law.
This concept means that people can invest in a company without risking personal
assets beyond their investment (i.e., shares in the corporation). For example, the victim
can only sue the corporation, not the individual shareholders if a corporation fails to observe proper
safety precautions in manufacturing a product. This
benefit is especially important for closely held corporations, like
Hobby Lobby, because any liability would otherwise be shared by a small
number of family members or other controlling shareholders. In exchange
for this protection, individual owners are not supposed to treat a
corporation as a mere extension of themselves.
Under the new decision, religious owners of closely-held, for-profit
companies try to have it both ways. They get to assert their personal
religious identity to exclude legally mandated birth-control benefits
from their company’s health insurance plan. Yet they hope they also will still enjoy
the insulation against personal economic liability that comes from doing business
as a corporation.
The problem with this is that is
that one cannot really have things both ways: one must either function
as a corporate entity which is separate from the personal interests of
the shareholder or accept full liability for the corporation. In other
words, this decision will “pierce of the corporate veil”, which is where
the the rights or duties of a corporation switch to the rights or
liabilities of its shareholders. In other words, Plaintiffs may seek to
have owners personally cover a corporate debt
when a business goes bust, for example, or to hold a corporation
responsible when an owner doesn’t have the money to pay their personal
While I understand that the chickens have begun to come
home to roost with this decision, this aspect has yet to rear its ugly
face. I have a feeling that when it does, the reality challenged right
wing will find yet another aspect of its ideology influenced policy
making will prove to be another golem for them to have to address.