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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Corporations from Apple and Angie’s List to Walmart and Wells Fargo exercised their power last week against laws that give aid and comfort to bigots. But don’t be too quick to praise their actions.

Commendable as these corporate gestures were, they also illustrate how America is morphing from a democratic republic into a state where corporations set the political agenda, thanks to a major mistake by Democrats in Congress. What they did has resulted in Supreme Court decisions that would infuriate the framers of our Constitution.

The framers distrusted the corporate form. And they made plain their concerns about concentrations of economic power and resulting inequality, worrying that this would doom our experiment with self-governance. Surely they would be appalled at the exercise of corporate influence last week. For the companies opposing “religious freedom” laws in Arkansas and Indiana were concerned with human rights only in the context of profit maximization, which is what economic theory says corporations are about.

Where are the corporate actions against police violence? Or unequal enforcement of the tax laws, under which workers get fully taxed and corporations literally profit off the tax laws? Or gender pay discrimination? And when have you heard of corporations objecting to secret settlements in cases adjudicated in the taxpayer-financed courts, especially when those settlements unknowingly put others at risk?

The so-called religious freedom restoration statutes in Arkansas, Indiana and 18 other states reflect a growing misunderstanding of the reasons that American law allows corporations to exist, a misunderstanding that infects a majority on our Supreme Court.

Corporations, which have ancient roots, serve valuable purposes that tend to make all of us better off. We benefit from corporations, but they must be servants, not masters.

Confining corporations to the purposes of limiting liability and creating wealth is central to protecting our liberties, as none other than Adam Smith warned 239 years ago in The Wealth of Nations, the first book to explain market economics and capitalism.

There is no fundamental right to create, own or operate any business entity that is a separate person from its owners and managers. Corporations exist only at the grace of legislators.

But in 21st-century America, corporations are increasingly acquiring the rights of people, which is the product of an unfortunate 1993 law championed by Democrats that now helps bigots assert a Constitutional right to discriminate in the public square.

Concern about corporations and concentrated power that diminishes individual liberties has become increasingly relevant since 2005, when John Glover Roberts Jr. was sworn in as chief justice of the United States.

Roberts and other justices who assert a strong philosophical allegiance to the framers’ views have been expanding corporate power in ways that would shock the consciences of the founders — especially James Madison, the primary author of our Constitution, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited sums influencing elections in the Citizens United decision. Now, as a practical matter, no one can become a Democratic or Republican nominee for president without the support of corporate America.

And, central to the Arkansas and Indiana legislation, the Supreme Court last year imbued privately held corporations with religious rights in the Hobby Lobby case.

The Roberts court invented all of these rights. Principled conservatives should denounce such decisions as “judicial activism,” yet nary a word of such criticism appears in right-wing columns and opinion magazines.

Today’s corporations have their roots in ancient trusts created to protect widows and orphans who inherited property. Hammurabi’s Code provided for an early version of trusts. Later the Romans created proto-corporations to manage public property and the assets of those appointed to oversee the far realms of the empire.

Managers of these early corporations had very limited authority, what the law calls agency, over the assets entrusted to them. Today, corporate managers have vast powers to buy, sell and deploy the assets they manage. They can do anything that is legal and demonstrates reasonable judgment.

Spending money to elect politicians (or pass anti-consumer laws) is perfectly fine under current law if it advances the profit-making interests of the company. Last week, we saw companies denounce bigotry against LGBTQ people, but of course they did so in terms of protecting their profits.

Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, opposed signing the Arkansas bill into law: “Every day in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers and communities we serve.” Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business.”

But creating efficient vehicles to create wealth by engaging in business does not require political powers, as none other than Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist noted in a dissent.

Where we have gone furthest astray under the Roberts court is in last year’s Hobby Lobby decision. It imbued privately held corporations with rights under the First Amendment, which says, in part, “Congress shall create no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Based on Hobby Lobby, both the Arkansas and Indiana laws were crafted to provide a defense for bigoted actions by businesses.

Yet laws requiring businesses to serve everyone, without regard to their identity, do not inhibit the free exercise of religion. A law that requires a florist or bakery to serve people in same-sex weddings as well as different-sex weddings may trouble the merchant, but it does not inhibit religious activity.

The corporate power on display in the so-called religious freedom restoration cases stems from a Supreme Court case that upheld the doctrine of laws of general applicability.

In 1990, the Supreme Court held that Oregon jobless benefits were properly denied to two Native Americans who worked at a drug rehab facility and who also, as part of their well-established religious practice, ingested peyote, a controlled substance.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who claims to follow the original intent of the Constitution’s drafters, wrote the opinion. He held that “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ‘valid and neutral law of general applicability’” such as denying jobless benefits to drug users.

Scalia cited an 1879 Supreme Court ruling in a test case known as Reynolds in which a Brigham Young associate asserted that federal laws against polygamy interfered with the “free exercise” of the Mormon brand of Christianity.

In that case, as Scalia noted, the high court had rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself,” the conservative justice wrote.

Two years later, Congress undid that sound decision with passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a sloppily crafted bill introduced by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D- NY), and championed in the Senate by another Democrat, the late Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

It was this law, undoing Scalia’s sound Supreme Court decision, which enabled corporations to exercise their power for a particular cause that is in their interest, namely ending bigotry. Such actions may be laudable, yet still dangerous.

Corporations are valuable and useful vehicles for creating wealth. But they are not and never should be political and religious actors. As artificial “persons,” they should not be imbued with political or religious rights.

We need to keep corporations in their place. Otherwise, next time, their profit maximization may work against your liberties.


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79 responses to “Toxic Law: How Corporate Power And ‘Religious Freedom’ Threaten Democracy”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    I am afraid that lamenting the influence that corporations and the elite have on government policy making is as futile as expecting eternal Spring. The issue should not be that corporations, and the wealthiest Americans, have the financial resources to do things that the average citizen cannot afford, but how they use those resources and for what purpose. Except for those who still cling to the failed philosophies of communism, and Marx and Engle’s style socialism, our economic system, and way of life, evolve around and depend on capitalism to exist. The key is to manage it or control in a way that limits fraud, abuse, and excessive influence in the internal affairs of government.
    Those corporations that stood up against discrimination deserve kudos, rather than expressions of suspicion.
    An easy way to establish a behavioral difference between those who have the ability of exerting undue influence in government affairs, and by default on our lives, and those who do could be found by analyzing the endeavors of billionaires like Bill Gates and the Koch siblings. Even a cursory review of what they are doing with their money would reveal the schism that exists between capitalism with a sense of humanity, and the worst facets of the ideology that we embrace.

    • atc333 says:

      The solution is to get out the vote, by clearly demonstrating the consequences of not voting to the millions of apathetic citizens who allow the GOP Right Wing and Corporate America to continue to further their agendas. After all, the GOP won the midterm elections with a stunning national voting majority of 1%., 17% turnout to a 16% turnout.

      The solution is to begin to educate these voters, showing them the consequences of the failed GOP Corporate economic agenda beginning with Reagan, massive deficits, massive wealth redistribution, shrinking the middle class, expanding the number of Americans living in poverty with a low minimum wage, deliberately exporting jobs and assembly lines offshore and giving tax deductions for doing so, refusal to reform the tax code, or increase taxes on the top 2% which has driven the massive inequality of wealth we now see in America. today.

      • idamag says:

        First, you nave to get them to see why they should vote and what is happening and what might happen. People have become so polarized that there is no dialogue. It is safer to talk about “Dancing With The Stars” or sports. If you even mention what happened in Washington, on a given day, you are shut down immediately with “I don’t talk politics.” It is not politics it is government. Until we can discuss it and be aware of the ramifications of government actions, we will continue to get less intelligent and continue to think stupid is a virtue.

      • oldtack says:

        Good Post 333

  2. anothertoothpick says:

    Here’s a radical idea – get rid of the corporations. That’s right – get rid of the entire legal structure that allows corporations to have their own privileges and liabilities distinct from those of its members. What would you replace it with? Complete personal responsibility, and that includes complete personal liability. In other words, allow the owners to gain the full benefits of the risks they take with their investments; however, make the owners/executives personally liable for any harm that comes from their ventures. Remove the protection that comes with the corporate shield

    • ericlipps says:

      Pigs will fly first, and not just on airplanes in silly TV commercials.

    • whodatbob says:

      Sounds good as do many dumb ideas! ericlipps says it all. We will see pigs in the air first.

    • idamag says:

      My description of capitalism is this: An immigrant lands in America with $3.00 in his pocket. $1.00 pays his room rent and he goes out looking for a job. People, being what they are, are not going to hire the man with the strange accent and clothes. He walks all over New York City. One day he spies a peddler selling buttons 2 pkgs for a penny. He is on a street corner with several industrial buildings about. No one is buying his buttons. He stops to chat with the button seller who is totally frustrated. The button seller tells him, he will sell him his cart with all the buttons for $1.00. The immigrant buys the cart and moves it to a location where housewives will pass by. He raises the buttons to a penny a package and soon sells all of them. He buys more and continues to sell and save until he can buy a small store. In the end he has a large fabric store and becomes rich. However, since we do not have capitalism, that would never happen. The big guys would sell the buttons 3 pkgs for a penny until they put the man out of business. Then they would raise their own buttons to 3 cents a package. Will all their money they can buy themselves legislators that will make laws to keep the little guy from succeeding.

      • anothertoothpick says:

        You’ right idamag. We don’t have true capitalism. Not even close.

      • missythemissmiss says:

        Capitalism will always fail due to greed of the human. It only works on paper. Our nation is self-destructing, because people stopped speaking up when they saw injustice, they stopped participating in politics and they have been persuaded by the media that Capitalism is the best we can do.

        Corporations were not supposed to last indefinitely. They were meant to be entities where we could pool resources for taking on projects that would be too large for an individual. What has been ignored is that they were also supposed to serve the community and to be dismantled when the project ended.

        Another failure of our system is giving people permission to make money from financial transactions. If you are not EARNING your money by providing a product or service, then you are upsetting the balance of resources by taking capital from the system without giving anything back.

        It disheartens me how many people cannot think beyond the scope of our current financial game. The rules can be changed to favor the masses and they should be if we want to survive. When concentrated wealth causes hardships for the masses, there is always violence to restore balance. Can’t we wake up and skip the violent revolution this time?

      • Yes. Here’s my example of Capitalism: A farmer raises wheat and sells it to a baker. The farmer is a capitalist. The baker takes the wheat he bought, bakes bread and sells it to a mechanic. The baker is a capitalist. The mechanic has to buy bread because he’s too busy repairing the farmer’s tractors and the baker’s delivery van to farm or bake. The mechanic is also a capitalist.

        Each of these capitalists might need help, so they hire – and train – people to work for them. Some would call these people “employees” but I call them “capitalists-in-training” because what they learn on the job can prepare them for a time when they can start their own businesses.

        Young people should seek employment with small companies – true capitalists – not large corporations. Be a capitalist-in-training, not a corporate cog!

        • davidcayjohnston says:

          Columnist here…

          Paul Anthony what you are describing is SPECIALIZATION, one of the most important sources of economic gain.

          Adam Smith’s story of how pin making, when done by one person, resulted pins being precious and how breaking the task into specialized work by a team made pins cheap illustrates this. So does the recent mutual fund ad on TV that shows a physician on the phone telling a man who wants to do surgery on himself where to place the knife in his rib cage…

          In the modern world most people must be employees because of the nature of the production of goods and services. They could be owners (as Louis Kelso taught) swell, but the reality is that the large and complex nature of everything from making tires to updating Google requires many workers.

          • Actually, what I’m describing is an ancient system of masters and apprentices. Masters shared their specialized knowledge with apprentices who wanted to learn (and who, in the opinion of the master, had some natural aptitude). Before free universal education, the only people who were taught were those who demonstrated a willingness to learn. Before there were labor unions that protect the lazy, there were guilds that ensured that its members were skilled.

            The problem isn’t just corporations that treat their employees as nameless, faceless numbers. The problem is also employees who want a paycheck more than they want to learn a skill…. and people who demand a “living wage” without offering anything of value in return.

  3. ericlipps says:

    The assorted Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and the selective application of the First Amendment by judges like Antonin Scalia indicate that what the religious right really wants is what the Puritans wanted and what made them increasingly unpopular in seventeenth-century England: the right for everybody to practice their faith. The Pilgrims who came to America did so to set up a theocracy in which they would be free to oppress those who dissented from their beliefs.

    • anothertoothpick says:

      It is a shame that we can’t get the folks that love personal responsibly …take some.

    • idamag says:

      They were not popular in Holland, either. With what so-called Christians are doing now, they won’t be too popular, here , in the future either. They came to this country and proceeded to discriminate against the Quakers and the Natives. They were not Americans, so we cannot say this country was founded on religion and the words of the Founding Fathers are clear on that. They were also clear on letting money take over our government. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins that is championed by so-called Christians.

    • oldtack says:

      Let us remember:
      Pillories and lashes
      1692 Salem Witch Trials
      Systematic slaughter of the Pequot tribe of Native Americans
      This is only a part of the religious “history” of those we venerate each Thanksgiving.
      Is it little wonder why King James and King Charles imprisoned and eventually sent these people to the Colonies.

    • hicusdicus says:

      So now we know who your ancestors were. You did not fall far from that tree. What surprised me was finding out that nut megs were trees.

      • ericlipps says:

        And besides being gratuitously insulting, this has what, exactly, to do with the subject under discussion?

        Back under your bridge, troll!

        • hicusdicus says:

          You seem to be really into yourself. You are going to set us all straight on how the world turns. Apparently you are unaware that this is a public political forum were people gather to to insult each other for the sheer fun of it. Then their is ole nut meg the humorless twit expounding with pomposity the wisdom of the ages . Subject under discussion, You could win an Oscar for boring a tree trunk. You are correct in your description of me. I do live under a bridge its called a troll bridge.

          • ericlipps says:

            I’m really into myself? I don’t know what you’re into, but it sure isn’t rational discussion; evidently that goes right over the point atop your head. So does written English, it seems.

            I don’t see this as “a public forum where people gather to insult each other for the fun of it.” If you do, that’s your problem, especially since it seems you’re rather easily insulted. Come to think of it, your perception of the purpose of this “forum” explains a lot about your posts. Evidently you’re one of those people who, in another context, would think a shopping mall exists so looters and vandals can come in and trash the place “for the fun of it.” Maybe I know what you’re into after all—and what you’re up to.

            But congratulations for admitting outright that you’re a troll, not that it’s exactly fresh news. You do know they’re supposed to be cannibals, don’t you?

          • hicusdicus says:

            That’s weird! ! You think what you say is important. You are a humorless person who has no concept of how to be entertaining or interesting. Trolls are mythical creatures that have no meaning. Why do you talk about them? Your analogy’s, how do you come up with them? Have you ever done voice overs for audio books if not you should give it a try . You could cure world wide insomnia.. Happy hard boiled egg day to you.

          • ericlipps says:

            Whether what I have to say is “important” or not is immaterial. I have the right to say it, and others have the right to judge what it’s worth. Even you. And I don’t post on sites like this to entertain you, nor is it my fault that you don’t find what I have to say interesting, since it’s obvious you don’t understand half of it and reflexively reject the rest because it’s not what you want to hear, or, at this point, just because it’s from me. I couldn’t care less.

            As for the “troll” reference, a minute or two of research via Google should tell you what an Internet troll is—though I’m surprised you apparently don’t already know.

          • hicusdicus says:

            One of the reasons I don’t find what you have to say interesting is I already know most of it. That is what makes you so boring. Have no fear nothing you say entertains me until you get all frothy and uptight. Troll reference. You have the sense of humor of a brick. Like I said you are all caught up in your self importance and is just so awesomely unimportant. Did you do anything fun on multi colored hard boiled egg day? Or did you lecture the kiddies on where eggs come from? I will let you get back to saving the world. Thanks for the nice chat.

          • idamag says:

            There are plenty of intelligent people, who use these boards, to whom you don’t have to explain what you said

    • Independent1 says:

      I’m certainly no scholar on what the Puritans really wanted which caused them to abandon England,;but if today’s conservatives are akin to those Puritans, I would have added a little to what you point out they wanted: “the right for everybody to practice their faith.”

      I would have added, “even if practicing their faith, turned out to be detrimental to the lives of many people around them.”

      That to me is the rub – today’s Republicans, care not, that the way they want to practice their contrived faith, creates considerable problems for many other people in America; people who have as much a right to live their lives in America the way they want, as these overly presumptuous Conservatives have a right to live theirs their way.

      • ericlipps says:

        Note the emphasis in my original post. What I was saying was that the Puritans wanted to create a society in which they could worship as they saw fit and p[unish or expel anyone who didn’t worship as the Puritans saw fit.

  4. atc333 says:

    The real problems with Corporations is the determination that a Corporation is a “person” in the eyes of the law. and that massive political contributions are speech, which means that if you are the CEO of a corporation, your speech is many more times important to those elected officials than that of individuals. What I find amazing is that the Supreme Court has no concern what so ever as to what the desires and political opinions of that same corporation, which may be just the opposite of the massive donations of that corporation. That same Court also totally ignores the extreme pressure our “elected officials” are under when those same massive donations are accompanied with a request for political action which is not in the best interests of this nation,but does assure continued substantail contributions from that same donor.

    • davidcayjohnston says:

      Columnist here…

      act333, the concept of a legal entity — a corporation, partnership, trust — being a “person” under the law is ancient and well founded.

      A corporation is property and without legal standing as an artificial entity, a legal person, it would have no protections in legal disputes. This status is fundamental to the many benefits from using the corporate form, which encourages risk taking and wealth creation.

      But person ≠ people. That is a crucial, if subtle, distinction.

      The problem arises when the concept of corporations as legal persons is expanded to political and religious rights, as I explain above.

      You can read more about these issues — and how the morality of people conflicts with the immortal (and amoral) status of corporations — in my books The Fine Print and Free Lunch.

  5. AlfredSonny says:

    If we all stick with the Ten Commandments, corruptions and wars would be minimized.

    • johninPCFL says:

      Yeah, but like the tax code the “religious leaders” “clarify” the commandments with all of the practical ramifications. These ultimately lead to the Torah and Sharia.
      After all, the commandment is “thou shalt not kill”, but the same book that lists the commandments then goes on to list several “infractions” for which death is called out: not making your brother’s widow pregnant, gathering firewood on the Sabbath, etc. which were never addressed in the original “commandments”.
      Ultimately, eating shrimp, pigs, frogs, etc. were added to the list of “infractions” requiring death, and “thou shalt not kill” is now more of a guideline than a “commandment”.

      • rvn_sgt6768 says:

        The Commandment is “Thou shalt not murder” and it is used in context of doing so to steal or gain that which you are also coveting, that is property which does not belong to you and therefore you use murder as a method to gain that property. Not all killings are of this nature.

    • GaryBeene says:

      Well, hmmm, just two book later (Numbers 21:1-5; Numbers 31) Moses orders the violation of virtually every one of the Holy Ten…so much for THOU SHALT NOT covet, steal, kill, etc.

      • oldtack says:

        The self righteous ones vilify the Muslems and the writings of the Quran as a book espousing killing and violence of those that do not follow their “God” and seem to ignore the same writings in the Torah. Selectivity? or Ignorance?

        • Eleanore Whitaker says:

          Only because in IN, they lynched 3 innocent black males back in the 30s for no reason other than daring to glance in the direction of some princess white girl on the opposite side of the street. So, you bet they will do whatever they can to appear “absolved of their own sins, even if that means never looking in the mirror and “getting religion” they hope covers generations of sins.

          • oldtack says:


          • hicusdicus says:

            Are you praying in public again?

          • oldtack says:

            Amen? Amen is not a solely religious word. It is a closing word “so be it” or” Truly you speak the truth”. “Truly it is so”
            The Religious use this word to end a prayer or supplication but it is also used in the Secular realm.

          • hicusdicus says:

            Okay! No more of my humor.

          • The lucky one says:

            How many states can you name where lynchings did not occur?

          • hicusdicus says:

            And on top of that they may have been the only innocent black males in the world.

          • idamag says:

            Life Magazine did quite a few issues on what was happening in the taliban south. Emmett Till , 14 years old, from Chicago, was visiting with a cousin in Mississippi. They went into a store to buy soft drinks. His cousin warned him not to look the female clerk in the eye, but he looked right at her as he bought is soda. This (essence of feminine pulchritude) told her husband. Her husband was a deacon in the baptist church. He got four other guys and they literally beat this boy to a pulp. The magazine took it up and the boy’s mother insisted they be tried for murder. The evidence was irrefutable. However, the all white jury came back with a “not guilty” verdict. One dainty southern belle’s husband passed the plate in church on Sundays.

        • idamag says:

          After reading about the Spanish inquisition, the French inquisition, and the Italian inquisiton, I came to the conclusion that the taliban were nicer people.

          • oldtack says:

            Read the Quran and read the Torah – except for names the only difference I see is that the Jews trace their lineage and blessings from Abraham through his son Isaac while the Muslims trace their lineage from Abraham through his son, Ishmael.

          • idamag says:

            I have read the Quran.

    • highpckts says:

      No. In Indiana a florists was asked if she followed the Ten Cammanments. She answered yes. Then was asked if Adultery was a sin and again she said yes. Would you serve an adulterer, again yes. Why she was asked and she responed that adultery was a different sin. Really? So we get to decide which “sins” are worse thatn others when being gay isn’t even listed in the Ten Commandments? This is how “religion” is so inconsistant and cannot be a moral guide line. People are not smart enough to rely on their own moral sense of what’s right or not!

      • hicusdicus says:

        I can rely on my moral sense of right and wrong. If I don’t like it, its wrong. I have forgotten more than most people know. In fact I have forgotten most of the people I know. I think I have just forgotten what I was talking about. But I will never forget you.

        • rvn_sgt6768 says:

          Whether you like or dislike something has absolutely no link as to its being right or wrong only that for you, you dislike it. Just as for me, if you forget or not forget me has no meaning to me only to you.

          • hicusdicus says:

            If I owed you money you would not forget me. If I don’t like it its wrong for me. If I like it its right for me. If you are talking about something physical or mechanical that’s a different set of problems. I like guns as long as one is not pointed at me, then I don’t like them and that goes for the person holding it.

          • idamag says:

            No, hiccupo has a point. If you have been brought up right, your moral compass (not religion) will tell you whether what you are doing is right or wrong. I can give you an example: I had a supervisor who accepted a television set, sent to his home, for buying sub standard chemical. In the end, this chemical damaged the mechanical systems. My supervisor was a very active church goer who bragged about it sometimes. I questioned his actions and he said there was nothing in the Bible that said he couldn’t accept gifts from vendors. So if hiscidiscus had been faced with the same problem, being a critical thinker, he would calculate the cost to the patients (it was a hospital), and the cost of replacing machinery before he made the purchase and when offered a television set, sent to his home, he would have been offended. You see, the more religious rules, you have to follow, the less you can reason these things out.

      • idamag says:

        As the Bible says, break one of the commandments and you break them all.

    • Independent1 says:

      Of course you’re aware that the Ten Commandments are referred to in the New Testament as ‘The Law’, and that as Paul pointed out in several of his letters, that following ‘The Law’ would get no one to Heaven. Because if that would, then Jesus shed his blood for nothing. True Christians know that the Ten Commandments are not rules to be followed, but rather are attributes that should be characteristics of true Christians who actually live by the commandments that Jesus brought us and are mostly recorded in Matthew’s gospel chapters 5-7.

  6. waggaze says:

    This article is well written with the exception of citing the two American Indians. They were not tribal citizens and therefore not entitled to protection under the AIFRA. Corporations must be reeled in before the damage done by identifying them as citizens with political power destroys our democracy that many lives were given to institute the greatest social experiment the world has ever experienced and lived.

    • davidcayjohnston says:

      Columnist here…

      The Supreme Court decision does not question the religious sincerity of the two men and, if anything suggests that the court accepts that their religious practices were in accord with the teachings they follow.

      So in writing my column I concluded their status (while important in other contexts) was irrelevant to SCOTUS.

      It was also utterly irrelevant to my point about how the reaction to that SCOTUS decision set in motion the events of today. A column is not a book and it must focus on the issue at hand.

      You can read a brief description and the opinion, written by Scalia, the separate affirmation by O’Connor and the very well reasoned dissents by Blackmun (with Brennan and Marshall concurring) here:

      • waggaze says:

        The SCOTUS noted they were not tribal citizens of a federally recognized tribe and therefore not protected under AIFRA. Dig deeper as you will unveil the root of the decision as not being citizens of a sovereign tribal nation.

    • Michael MacPherson says:

      There are no references of tribes or citizens in the AIFRA. The AIFRA has to due with American Indian freedom of religion for all American Indians with no distinction of belonging to a tribe, American Indians do not consider themselves citizens of a tribe, anymore then people in a family consider themselves citizens of the family they belong to. If I am mistaken please email me a copy the AIFRA paragraph where it says an American Indian has to be a citizen of a tribe to have freedom of religion recognized.

      • waggaze says:

        I beg to differ with you on citizens of a tribe, nation, Rancheria or other designated entity. Most federally recognized tribes have a constitutions, only one comes to mind that is incorporated, and their members are citizens of said tribe. They all carry citizenship cards and some have CDIB cards issued by the DOI. I am not sure where or what you have been reading about American Indian tribes but it is flat out wrong. I refer you to 25 CFR for further clarification of what I have just stated. I believe you are speaking some romanticized fictional noble savage speak that wannabes always try to use. Those American Indians I mentioned are definitely citizens of their sovereign nation. By 25 CFR they can only be citizens of one federally recognized tribe but can claim heritage to many tribes. 25 CFR clearly delineates AIFRA as to whom it applies to. Have a nice day and always remember who you might be corresponding with since there are ~2M tribal citizens in America today. The rest are wannabe television new agers since the real ones are direct descendants of or from the Dawes era or if Florida Seminole/Miccosukee descendants of those who never lost the battle with Jackson but survivors of the Everglades and descendants of the Muscogee or Mvskoke Nation.

  7. idamag says:

    I think everyone should read “Fahrenheit 451.” It was science fiction, now coming to pass. David Cay Johnson has the ability to see forward to cause and effect. People will not listen until, like the above book, two major corporations in the world make all the laws. In the book, they have destroyed the environment and people are owned by these corporations which control every aspect of their lives.

    • kenndeb says:

      Orwell’s 1984 is also coming to pass under the current regime, but you liberals continue to support the Emperor.

      • BillP says:

        You are bout 31years late with that reference troll, but that’s about par for your comments, too little too late. The best part of your lame comments are that they are usually brief.

        • kenndeb says:

          I’m sorry ,Bill. I should have known that unless a reference is given to you by the regime, you would not have the brains to think for yourself. Perhaps, instead of being a mindless drone, you could actually try to think for yourself. I know it is hard to go outside your comfort zone by maybe reading something other than regime approved literature. Do try though. You should read 1984. It might open your eyes a bit, but I doubt your handlers will approve.

          • BillP says:

            Well kendoll I have read 1984, Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia and a number of Orwell’s essays. It you think Orwell would agree with your Reactionary beliefs then you haven’t read about the man himself. Remember most his writings are fiction not historical facts. As for reading I will gladly match what I read versus whatever primers you still have a hard time understanding. You love to state that all Liberals are controlled by this presidential administration but we are much more open minded than you ever were or will be. Your repetitive comments show a mind that lacks integrity or comprehension. All you offer is that President Barack Hussein Obama was duly elected by a majority of the American votes – twice! So your rants of his being illegal are just that, the rants of a bitter old man nothing more. You offer nothing of value in your comments just your delusional rants. Go get some smokes and beer.

      • Michael MacPherson says:

        Yeah, I know racist hypocrites like you don’t like the Black
        President even though he turned the country around by saving the American auto
        industry providing medical care to millions of Americans, the stock markets are
        doing record business and the unemployment rate is way down just to mane a very
        few things President Obama has done to help America out of a disastrous
        situation that President George W. Bush put us in.

        Remember! Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld and their minions, Started a War in Iraq for
        oil, then told lie after lie about weapons of mass destruction (never found),
        Yellow cake uranium (proved false, another lie) and the lies went on. Then
        there was Vice president Dick Chaney who used Billions of dollars in taxpayer
        money to bail out Halliburton, when they were on the verge of bankruptcy, the
        company that Dick Cheney just happened to be Vice President of, then sent them
        to Iraq as mercenaries and they murdered innocent Iraqi men, women and
        children, they also caused the deaths of US service men and women because of
        poor construction on military bases.

        To Start off with Your hero George W. Bush was the first president to be
        appointed to the presidency, do to his brother Jeb, telling his Florida Supreme
        Court to stop the ballet counting because Al Gore was ahead and appoint George
        to the presidency. The Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld after not providing
        proper armored vehicles and equipment for the military in Iraq, told a soldier
        on leave from Iraq who complained about not having properly armored vehicles
        and not having proper equipment, that you fight with the army and equipment you
        have not the army and equipment you wish you had.

        When Barack Obama was sworn into office this country was leaking 500,000 jobs
        per day, the stock market was at a record low, the auto industry was going
        bankrupt and the taxpayer’s were force to pay the Wall Street 800 Billion
        dollars for the risky stocks they invested in and lost that risk, knowing that
        if the banks did lose the taxpayer’s money would bail them out. George Bush to
        trick the taxpayer’s set up a special of shore account with over a trillion
        dollars in taxpayer money to fund the Iraq war off the books, so the American
        people wound not know just how much trouble their economy as really in.

        Bush and his minions cost 5000 American soldiers their lives, along with about
        30,000 wounded, 250,000 Iraqis dead and another 500,000 wounded so that the
        Bush administration and the oil companies could get rich.

        Why don’t you take up a new hobby and fact check the accomplishments of
        President Obama before you call him an Emperor? Then fact check the lies of
        George W. Bush and turn of Fox News a major source propaganda and
        disinformation off.

  8. Blueberry Hill says:

    We need to get all religions out of the government. The government should never be run by religions, we are not the taliban (yet) and not the ISIS, etc., but inviting religion to make laws for us is only the beginning. Watch how fast our democracy disappears then. Our government was established to free us from religious persecution, that is what brought European people to this country in the first place.


    • idamag says:

      damn straight! The government of the people is supported by all the people and therefore should govern as statespersons and not theocrats. I remember in grade school, all the children of the prevailing religion were excused from school at 1400 hour on Wednesday to attend their religious childrens’ group. They were transported by school bus. I was the only one in my class who did not belong to that religion and there I sat, all alone, in the classroom. When Madelin O’hare O’hara made her dust up, that ended years and years later. From that, I know what letting any religion in government can do.

      • Blueberry Hill says:

        Absolutely! We just may get to see signs one of these days that say “Christians not welcome here” on restaurants and shopping malls, etc. Wow, the whining that would go on then, when they are the ones opening the floodgates to it. Their stunts can and do backfire. Keep religion out of politics. Any place of business should serve anyone who enters, not pick and choose customers. If they have problems serving the wrong people, then get a different job.


  9. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Corporations will never sway the court of public opinion. And, lest we all forget, corporations are inbred with their own weaknesses…namely…CEOs who are not infallible. They make mistakes and their crash their businesses.

    What really happened in the US can be defined easily: Venture capitalism on steroids.

    When the only business of business is to buy and sell business, how is that everlasting? What you are all looking at is greed out of control by a money hungry bunch who think the more money they squeeze out of the masses, they’ll take it with them when they die. NO they won’t. In fact, their greatest danger is each other. No wealthhead is ever satisfied with wealth per se. They want power over ALL. That kind of mania is a guarantee of failure. There has never been a single power drunk who thought he would control the entire world who ever found that ultimate fantasy to be a reality. Either they took their own lives or someone else took it from them.

  10. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Religion in government doesn’t work and the nutheads of self-righteousness will never enforce their religious views on others lest they begin to appear the same kind of Sharia law nuts of the Middle East.

  11. Michael MacPherson says:

    We are allowing money in politics, this enables Wall Street and the rich
    to buy our elections. The American people are allowing the Corporate
    owned U.S. Supreme Court majority to enact laws to help Wall Street, the
    5 corporate owned traitorous Supreme Court Justices have enacted
    Citizens United so Wall Street, and the rich such as the Koch Brothers
    can use their billions of dollars to buy elections, they enacted money
    is speech, and corporations are people. When are you couch potato fools
    going to throw the rich Oligarchy out of power and bring back Democracy,
    Freedom and Constitutional Law?

    The Corporations owned our
    local news stations thanks to ex president George W. Bush who took away
    the law that protected freedom of the press by not allowing corporations
    to owned the news and brought back the right for corporations to have
    monopolies, now we have censored news that will not report on corporate
    or government crime and one electric company, cable company, etc in a
    given area so there is no competition so these companies can over change
    for services and cheat you as they see fit because you have no
    alternatives. The United States has the largest population of brain
    washed people in the world, thanks to the local news and 90% of radio
    owned stations using GOP propaganda and disinformation to keep the
    people misinformed about politicians lies and the fact we are an
    Oligarchy by Wall Street and the rich that run the country, we no longer
    have Democracy, Freedom or Constitutional law for the poor and middle

    Even this so called religious freedom by hypocrites that
    call themselves Christians who discriminate against Gays and LGBT
    people. Christians worship Jesus, but do not fallow his teachings, you
    Know…what you do to the least of us, you do to me, Jesus created every
    body, what do these prejudice homophobes think? That god created people
    of color and LGBT people so the straight people could have people to
    hate and discriminate against so they can feel superior to them, which
    makes them feel good about themselves. These religious Hypocrites either
    read the bible and are ignoring gods words especially where he was
    always for the poor, or these stupid ignorant idiots did not read the
    bible at all or are too stupid to understand that god has written that
    he wants us to always help the poor and all those less fortunate then we
    are. So these religious Hypocrites are following Jesus in hopes of
    going to heaven, but ignoring his teachings because they go against
    their Hatred of everyone who are not like them.

    • Independent1 says:

      What you posted sounds a lot like something I may well have written.

      The only consolation I have with respect to your very accurate description of today’s right-wing GOP loving bigots/hypocrites, is that they eventually will be getting their well deserved due in the hereafter, as prophesied by Jesus 2000 years ago in words that were recorded for us in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 7; which lets us know that even then he knew people like these fake Christians would be coming; and although they may act like they’re Christians, Jesus can see through their facade and will treat them on the last day as they deserve to be treated – like the trash that they are:

      From Matthew 7:

      True and False Disciples

      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
      22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

      23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

      • Michael MacPherson says:

        Yes this is true, Jesus also says god loves those who helps themselves. So it is up to everyone to get the word out to vote these criminals out of office, so they can do no more harm to others.

        • Independent1 says:

          Michael, I don’t disagree with your comment, but I can’t find any verse in the Bible which actually says that – “God loves those who help themselves”. I think that’s something GOP-lovers have concocted so they can justify within themselves that relegating the poor to a status of peons who aren’t worth helping because somehow they’ve failed in helping themselves, is therefore okay with God.

          There is a verse that says “God loves a cheerful giver.”

          And, there is a verse back in the Old Testament which for Old Testament believers such as the GOP-loving Evangelicals – who just love to quote from Leviticus, virtually destroys all the GOP’s hate-filled rhetoric against the poor.

          See these versus from Leviticus:

          35 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.

          36 Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you.

          37 You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.

          If you locate a verse in the New Testament that really says “God loves those who help themselves” let me know.

          • Michael MacPherson says:

            Sorry, you are right that not from the Bible. I also miss quoted the phrase it is
            “God helps those who help themselves” is probably the most often quoted
            phrase that is not found in the Bible. This saying is usually attributed
            to Ben Franklin, quoted in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757. In actuality, it originated from Algernon Sydney in 1698 in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government. Whatever the original source of this saying, the Bible teaches the opposite. God helps the helpless! Isaiah 25:4
            declares, “For You have been a defense for the helpless, a defense for
            the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the

            Read more:

          • Independent1 says:

            Yeah! Now that you point out where it came from, I remember hearing that about Ben Franklin. And given that the GOP’s whole mantra is to demonize and punish the poor (in total contradiction to what you just posted from Isaiah) and those who are otherwise less fortunate via for examples to cuts in SNAP funding, refusing to extend Medicaid to those who need medical care; to doing everything they can to destroy Social Security and Medicare, etc. etc. – only goes to demonstrate clearly how anti-Christian Republicans, including Evangelicals have become.

          • Michael MacPherson says:

            The GOP is the political arm of Wall Street, they only support the rich with tax loopholes so that corporations either pay very little or no taxes, I believe it was former president Ronald Reagan that lowered the tax rate for the rich to about 33%, during the Kennedy presidency the tax rate for the rich was 98% on money over 5 million dollars. Wall Street, the rich, ALEC, and the Koch Brothers see the Social Security fund as a massive payday for them if they can turn Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid into a vouch program that the insurance companies can regulate. The GOP and some Democrats totally work for Wall Street and the rich, they are psychotic sociopaths who’s only god is money and power. The Christian coalition and the Evangelical are the one’s pushing anti abortion and anti women,s rights, they pay huge amounts of money to the republicans and the republican bring up anti abortion legislation just to keep getting money from these so called Christian groups who do not follow the words of Jesus. Only people who help the poor believe in the words of god, and that leaves the Republicans out.

  12. stsintl says:

    “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private
    power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself.
    That in its essence is fascism ownership of government by an individual, by a
    group or any controlling private power.” – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    Capitalism is masculine and strong. Democracy is feminine and delicate. Free Press is window to Democracy’s bedroom. When Capitalism pulls down the shades over the windows, places five judges of the Supreme Court to guard the bedroom door and rapes Democracy, nation ends up with an illegitimate Congress.

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