A lot lately has been made over the slippery slope quickly approaching the Supreme Court. In the first quarter of next year, they will hear arguments over religious freedoms guaranteed "we the people" and now seemingly "we the corporations" of America as it relates to healthcare. That is surely to be a wonderful case to watch and their June decision will be landmark level.
But before SCOTUS takes up that battle which will help define corporations status as "people", there's some other monkey business to be heading to the courts. Did I say monkey? I meant to say, "chimp." And now that I think about it, what follows might give the true meaning of a monkey court.
In a string of landmark cases to be filed this week, four chimpanzees will fight for the right to retire to humane sanctuaries. Stop snickering. This is real.
It seems chimps are people too, my friend. And if that's the case, it must mean that evolution is real as well. Think about it. Is this the next Scopes Monkey Trial?
Here's the story of the law suits that are being waged.
A man named Pat Lavery and his wife had first came across Tommy the chimpanzee ten years ago. At the time he was believed to be around 16 years old and was a long time veteran of the entertainment business. Who doesn't like a show biz vet? So the Laverys took Tommy in along with other members of the Chimpanzee family. They sheltered them, fed them, and took care of them.
That was going smoothly until last Monday when Lavery discovered that Tommy, the chimpanzee to whom he has extended his hospitality and an endless supply of bananas for the last decade, had sued him in New York’s Supreme Court.
The Daily Beast picks up here:
The first-of-its-kind lawsuit seeks a writ of habeas corpus, a legal tool used to challenge a person’s imprisonment or detention. It demands Tommy’s immediate release from “illegal detention” and transfer to any of the seven refuges that form the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance—making the 26-year-old chimp the first non-human animal to demand legal rights under common law.
Look, as I prefaced, if a corporation that can't breath, eat, give birth, swing on a vine or peel a banana can be considered a person, why not a chimp?
Acting on Tommy’s behalf is The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), an organization on a mission to have animals recognized in law not just as “things,” but as “persons” with the right—among others—to “bodily liberty.”
Lest you think Tommy's alone in feeling his rights have been infringed upon,
Tommy’s lawsuit, in which the animal is named as a petitioner represented by the NhRP, is the first of three such cases being filed in New York county courts on behalf of four chimps.
The lawsuit claims:
“Chimps are autonomous, they self-determine their own lives, they are extraordinarily social, self-aware beings—behaviors and characteristics that qualify them as persons with a fundamental right to freedom.”
This really boils down to what does a chimp know, feel, smell, sense and experience. If you subscribe to Darwin's theory, they are endowed with all those abilities. We know that Corporations don't contain any of those. Their inanimate. But with a chimp, there seems to be some recognized qualities to their existence which makes you want to give out a Tarzan yell.
“Chimpanzees possess a sense of self that developmentally emerges in a manner similar to humans and is highly stable over time. They recognize themselves in mirrors and on television and can use a flashlight to examine the interiors of their own throats in a mirror. Adult chimpanzees recognize photos of themselves as youngsters,” the papers state, citing affidavits from multiple scientists.
“Like humans, chimpanzees have a concept of their personal past and future and suffer the pain of not being able to fulfill their needs or move around as they wish,” the court papers state, adding: “Like humans, they experience the pain of anticipating never-ending confinement.”
Show me one corporation that experiences those feelings.
I'm not going so far as the suggest chimps qualify for Obamacare, but they do qualify to be treated humanely. And that's what this is all about.
So Mitt Romney and SCOTUS with your Citizen's United finding, you might want to pay special attention to these upcoming chimp cases. As you approach hearing the corporations arguments for religious freedoms, consider Tommy's case could ultimately be kicked up to your court on appeal, or a banana peel. If you give corporations religious rights, what's next? Will you determine whether Tommy's eligible to demand Kosher only foods. Oh, and let's not forget these show biz chimps were paid when employed. Maybe they qualify for social security and unemployment benefits.
So simple, but so ignored.
Last night, Chris Hayes had Sandra Fluke and right-wing radical and Washington Examiner contributor Tim Carney going tete-a-tete on his All In show. They were discussing the two cases the Supreme Court has agreed to hear (probably in March, verdict in June) on corporate religious freedom rights, as they might affect the Affordable Care Act.
When you hear Sandra Fluke speak so eloquently below, you can see why this "whore" according to Rush Limbaugh was fought hard in being allowed to address a congressional panel on Women's Health and Contraception hearing by the terrified, misogynist, Republican party. How dare she spew common sense in such easy to understand words. The GOP was justified in trying to keep her silenced as she destroys all of their fanatical arguments so easily.
It's clear that the evangelicals are on the road with their bullhorns blazing, their pulpits popping and their zealotry oozing. The more they speak, the easier it will be for the nine SCOTUS justices to see how giving religious freedom as a foundational justification to a company is wrong. It's tantamount to giving corporations the license to pick and chose which laws they wish to abide by and those they chose to ignore. Giving a corporation first amendment rights designed for individuals, (in this case religious freedom), will be the slipperiest slope they may ever have adjudicated. It's very doubtful that under scrutiny and behind closed-door discussions, the SCOTUS members will want to totally destroy human American with Corporate America. It could happen, but I wouldn't bet on it. Not if they are presented arguments like these:
Perhaps the easiest way to put the argument to bed as to whether or not "corporations are people, too, my friend," is to pass a clarification law stipulating that corporations are in deed people. (I know, it's crazy and we know they aren't, but let's for a moment say they are.) What would the next step be?
Well, for starters, we would have no, repeat no, federal deficit and individual taxes would drop precipitously. Why? Because PEOPLE don't get the advantages and tax loopholes of the Federal Corporate Tax Rate that allows them to skate on their tax obligations to this country. They would just pay the federal individual tax payer rate, like all of us "people," which they will then be.
Gone would be all those corporate write-offs, jets, yachts, huge parties and outings. Those huge offices and off-shore holding accounts. We could say bye-bye to tax credits for sending business overseas. If individuals don't get those benefits, either will the new "individuals." Oh, and too big to fail? That's gonna be gone too as no individual is too big to fail.
So what are we talking about when when we start saying that corporations are people too? We're talking about the entire rehauling of big business and a simplification of the tax laws. When they start paying their individual taxes they can start enjoying the individual freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.
If they want free speech they won't need Citizen's United. As people, they will have that. If they want freedom of religious beliefs as in the two cases approaching the Supreme Court, then as individuals they will have that. But with those rights, come restrictions and penalties -- including jail and fines for abuses.
Think about how quickly the national debt would turn into a surplus (promoting tax rebates and lower individual rates) if corporations paid their "people" tax rates, not corporate tax rates. In 2012, the following companies paid either ZERO federal taxes or actually got REBATES from the government - Wall Street Journal:
Think about it for a moment. Is something wrong with this picture? Why should companies have all the benefits that people have, but not the responsibilities? People pay their fair share in order to enjoy a fair voice and be protected under the laws.
So big companies, you want to be treated like people, act like it.
Dahlia Lithwick in her recent essay for Slate, describes the new term that we should all be aware of:
The problem isn’t conscience clause legislation so much as what we might call conscience creep: a slow but systematic effort to use religious conscience claims to sidestep laws that should apply to everyone.
Recalibrating who can express a right of conscience (i.e do corporations have a conscience?) and what the limits of that conscience might be, may well be the next front in the religious liberty wars being waged in courts around the country.
So what does that really mean to all of us. We know there are always provisions written into our US laws, specifically the 1973 Church Amendment, that makes exceptions for considering one's religious beliefs in how and to what extent laws affect them.
Recently and with more frequency religious and moral convictions became a catchphrase and explanation for law violations. It can be understandable when used legitimately. But therein lies the rub. Lately right wing organizations, under the guise of religious beliefs, have called upon this clause to stop just about anything that they don't like. The justification is the gray area.
Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, have all applied the church amendment. There it's much more cut an dry as they stand and exist for religious reasons only. But what about colleges, hospitals and prisons? Do they get the same religious protections. They don't deal primarily in an orthodoxy that these laws might violate. And they receive federal funds.
Last year, for instance, a prison guard withheld an abortion pill from a prisoner who’d been raped on the grounds that it violated her personal religious beliefs. And it hasn’t stopped at abortion, birth control, or sterilization, but may include activities like counseling rape victims or teaching AIDS patients about clean needles.
What about with adoption agencies claiming for religious reasons they won't allow a same sex couple to adopt or give a black child to a white family? Here again, the doctrine of religious conscience is being used to circumvent the thrust of the law.
Now this doctrine of religious conscience is moving into corporate headquarters. For cost saving purposes, but under the "excuse" of religious beliefs, companies are determining which laws they want to observe, and which they wish to void. These are not entities that by their identity are religious, but rather their owners are.
It doesn't stop there. The military. Our military, made up of every race, creed, religion. States have passed laws that ban same sex marriage based on religious dogma. Yet same sex marriages by National Guardsmen/women are acknowledged by the federal government but not by the states. So to get ID cards, medical care, family counseling, other military benefits, the same sex couples must travel to Federal bases. They're denied their rights within the states. And the basis is religious conscience creep, not national security.
This past summer, Republicans in the House tried to amend the National Defense Authorization Act to "protect inappropriate, defamatory, and discriminatory speech and actions" in the military. The amendment broadened a "conscience clause" that protected the right of troops and chaplains to hold anti-gay views so long as they did not actively discriminate against gay service members.
Are corporations, the military, fast food chicken outlets, hospitals, colleges, liquor store chains, burger joints, qualified to get these exemptions. Are corporations people? Do they have a conscience? The Supreme Court will ultimately decide as more and more conscience creep is experienced.
But ask yourself this, where do we draw the line?
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