Scalia may have opened path for Quakers to abstain from taxes


#1

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#2

They can try but, even if they field a case that makes it to the Supreme Court, it probably won’t work. The Hobby Lobby ruling restricted itself to birth control, explicitly other religious beliefs such those of Jehovah’s Witnesses dealing with blood transfusions.


#3

Yeah, uh, the Hobby Lobby decision pretty explicitly limited itself, and even the dissenting opinions acknowledged that the ruling didn’t apply to taxes. In my reading the ruling, while still a shitshow, was also narrow in that it merely forced the government to apply a second-best solution that didn’t “infringe” upon religious belief if it were available. The same could not be said of, say, emergency care or blood transfusions because there is no substitute for either of these things.


#4

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. While the ruling may be limited explicitly to birth control/abortion, the “slippery slope” of common law is greased with these kinds of opinions. The Supreme Court has shown a willingness to hear cases of companies seeking exemption from laws based on religious grounds, and there will be more cases brought. The next cases will likely broaden the ruling only slightly, but until there is a bright-line rule handed down by the court, the scope of the exemptions will be broadened.

According to the Court’s logic though, there is a less restrictive way to achieve that end; simply require the Federal Government to create a program to pay for blood transfusions when companies don’t want to. And bone marrow transplants. And organ transplants. And vaccinations. And… the list goes on. Ironically, creating a government program to fund these benefits means that essentially all taxpayers end up paying for these services anyway. Similarly, if insurance companies are required to provide these benefits “free” then all the other people in the insurance pool are paying anyway.

There’s just no doubt about it; the Hobby Lobby decision is a complete mess of legal reasoning, and it’s going to lead to an even bigger mess for other health coverage, and perhaps in other ways as well.


#5

ALITO, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a concurring opinion. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined, and in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined as to all but Part III-C-1. BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion.

So why is Scalia singled out?


#6

It turns out this issue has already been adjudicated back in 2003. The Quakers tried to obtain an exemption to paying a portion of their federal taxes on the grounds that a portion is paid to support the military, and a lower court determined that the RFRA only applies if a reasonable accommodation can be made. Since it is extremely hard to create a tax system that allows individuals to earmark their taxes, and for all practical purposes money is fungible, the suit by the Quakers to not pay taxes or have their taxes earmarked was denied.


#7

My point being they opened a window. Maybe not a door, but a window.


#8

And now there is precedent for the idea that an individual (because companies are people) can earmark their taxes because they don’t BELIEVE their money is fungible.

The Quakers have always been in the vanguard for human rights, so I look forward to their response in this situation.


#9

The only reason why Hobby Lobby won the supreme court ruling was that the current administration put into place a mechanism by which non-profits could avoid paying for the portion of health care insurance that went to birth control pills and abortifactants. Thus, the difficulty to allow for-profit corporations to also avoid paying for birth control pills and abortifactants was extremely minor–a mechanism was already in place.

Compare and contrast to allowing individuals to earmark their taxes. How would you handle the massive group on the Right who refused to pay for welfare (believing it was robbing Peter to pay Paul), or the groups who may decide to say “to hell with it” and refuse to pay for congress or the Presidency. What do you do if earmarked taxes fall short of what Congress mandates for HHS or for the DOA?

The window or door or whatever was always there–and it was created when the RFRA was passed in the 1990’s. But you can pass through it only if the burden on the government to accommodate your religious beliefs are relatively minor–which is why Sikhs get to keep their Kirpans (because the burden is an extra examination of the ritual weapon on an extremely small percentage of the population), but Muslim women need to remove their Burkas when obtaining a drivers license (because it creates a larger burden on law enforcement for positive identification).


#10

Again, the question was already settled more than 10 years ago.


#11

Is the key phrase. Our current SCOTUS leans heavily towards corporations. I somehow doubt SCOTUS gives a damn about Quakers and 5 out of 4 of would rule against individuals trying to get out of paying taxes no matter how much it contradicts their religion.


#12

This shows a remarkable ignorance regarding the the Supreme Court ruling and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (passed almost unanimously by Bill Clinton and the Democrat controlled House and Senate) on which the ruling was based.

The act limited laws that override religious conscience only when it could not be shown that there was an easier way to accomplish the intended policy. Since the government had already issued waivers to religious organizations on this issue, it had already undercut it’s claim that the policy in questions was absolutely necessary.


#13

My point being they opened a window. Maybe not a door, but a window.

No. The supposed windows and doors have already been nailed shut by the Supreme Court. RFRA is not a vehicle to this.


#14

I think you read a lot into my intentionally brief statement, but I appreciate your opinion!


#15

Ah yes, but people aren’t companies. The Amish are going to have to incorporate, and so will the rest of us. Fortunately, I have experience setting up Pennsylvania corporations, and my rates are very reasonable.


#16

How does not providing health care as defined by the ACA have anything to do with not paying taxes??
Yes, the ACA is law, but the supreme court didn’t just say they can break the law, they basically said that aspect of the law wasn’t constitutional, so therefor that particular requirement for birth control or procedures isn’t legal. Not the ACA as a whole, and certainly not about Taxes.
Now, it would be great if we could opt out of paying certain things like defence, but Tax law is pretty solid on making you pay.
The first legal challenge to ACA ended up being about taxes. The court actually ruled specifically that the individual mandate aspect was constitutional under Congress’s taxation powers. Basically, everyone, including hobby lobby, has to pay taxes that go to funding the ACA, but they can opt out of some of the provisions.

The hobby lobby ruling is a mind blowingly terrible precedent, but unfortunately I don’t think this will help the Quakers out.


#17

The Roberts Court has not been shy about overturning long-settled points of law.


#18

Your opinion is already out of date. In Wheaton College v. Burwell, the Supreme Court decided that you don’t even need to fill out the waiver. Now there isn’t a way for the government to find out which insurer to deal with to “accomplish the intended policy”.

So clearly the Hobby Lobby case isn’t limited.


#19

Burns: Now, because I am too kind, I will give you all a five minute head-start. You may commence running!

Burns: Well, that broke the ice. Now, any man who lives till noon tomorrow shall win his freedom!
Pasty-faced Lawyer: Excuse me. What gives you the legal right to do this?
Burns: You tell me. You are my lawyer.
Lawyer: Well, I guess you are zoned for hunting and you have previously claimed killing people is part of your religion. I think I can draw something up. [cut to the Lawyer on a typewriter] There. This should hold up in just about any courtroom.
Burns: Excellent. [kills the lawyer]


#20

It’s adorable when people think that any Supreme Court ruling (or law in general) will actually apply advantageously to their lower or middle class lives.