Neutralizing Social Media Platforms Using the Section 230 Act

Social media tech companies are facing backlash for being biased in publishing certain content affecting the society such as political issues. Section 230 Act of 1966 grants all social media companies immunity for all the content published on their platforms by third parties. Giant Tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter have received criticism for published content moderation that favors certain political views over others. Repealing this Act will require those companies to be legally liable for what their users post online, implying that they must monitor all the published content so as to stay safe from legal liability. Up to this point, concerns remain whether repealing Section 230 Act will actually lead to social media companies changing their bias in publishing or moderating content.

Opponents of repealing Section 230 argue that social media companies should remain free to do whatever they want with the generated content on their platforms. People who do not like the nature of the content or the way the content is displayed on the companies’ social media platforms should consider not using them. Some people also think that repealing Section 230 will allow the government to censor information. This implies that whatever people post on their social media platforms will be monitored and removed or published depending on the government’s approval of the content. This will violate people’s freedom of speech, and the government might use the opportunity to protect or promote certain information that does not reflect the truth in the society.

Proponents of repealing Section 230, however, feel that it is a brilliant idea because most of the existing social media companies have been suppressing conservative voices on certain issues affecting the society using algorithims. People holding this perspective believe that the use of algorithms makes social media platforms biased. To prevent this kind of bias, the proponents feel that it is essential for social media companies to be responsible for what is published on their websites. Although everyone has freedom of speech, creating algorithms that can sway the opinion of the public using social media platforms equals misinformation, which is not considered as free speech. Because of that, the immunity of social media platforms should be lifted making them liable for their published content.

There are differing opinions as to whether repealing Section 230 will result in social media companies changing their bias. Opponents of repealing Section 230 feel that if the immunity of social media platforms is removed, censorship of information to publish some while eliminating other content for legal concerns will lead to more circulation of biased content. The proponents feel that Section 230 should be repealed because social media platforms are using the current law to modify published information using algorithims to sway public opinion, hence making them biased. From these two points of view, bias already exists on social media platforms through the use of algorithms , and repealing of Section 230 is essential. The new legislation replacing Section 230, must ensure that the tech companies do not exploit it to create another form of bias, to violate the public’s freedom of expression.

Why The Alex Jones Censorship Ban is A Slippery Slope and Sets a Dangerous Precedent

he debate about fake news has been raging on for a while now. In this age, being the first to break the news on social media can do a lot for a journalist’s career. An active social media presence is almost a necessity in this field.

It’s not just news that these journalists are posting on their social media, more and more reporters are becoming increasingly vocal about their opinions online. So much that some of the most intense debates you will find are under a journalist’s posts.

Alex Jones, a popular radio host among the right-wing, is an example of a media personality who was not afraid of expressing his opinion online. The comments section under his personal account and Infowars, which he ran, always had some of the fiercest online debates.

We are using the past tense had because Alex Jones is no longer on any social media platform. He was banned from Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Apple and, finally Twitter. The first four tech giants accused him of spreading hate speech.

Jones is perhaps most famous for saying that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a ‘giant hoax’. It was widely reported that twenty children under the age of seven and six adults died in the shooting. Two parents, whose children died in the shooting, are currently suing Jones for defamation.

Twitter had initially resisted the temptation to ban Jones because they pride themselves in being ‘a company that does not use ideology to make decisions’. Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jack Dorsey, stated that Jones had not violated any of the company’s community guidelines and, that he will only be banned if Twitter finds tweets violating their guidelines after an investigation.

However, the decision to finally ban him came after Jones publicly posted an altercation between him and CNN journalist on Twitter’s video platform Periscope. In the video, Jones is seen yelling at the CNN journalist.

Twitter did not explicitly state how Jones violated their guidelines in the series of tweets that it provided after the ban. Many Conservatives came out to defend Jones and accused tech giants of censorship.

While the bans were applauded by the left, this decision to censor certain individuals begs several questions. Are these companies choosing political sides? Why are they not giving a comprehensive account of how individuals violate terms? Will the same standard be held to vocal leftist supporters? Are they bowing to public pressure?

Let’s face it. The accusation of election meddling, the use of advertisements on social media to send political messages and, the influence individuals with high social media following had in the lead up to the US presidential election of 2016 has put these tech giants in an unfamiliar turf.

Some of the decisions can be interpreted as trying to make up for not doing more to prevent violation of their platforms and their user data in the past. Trust between the users and these companies was breached. Like any other relationship, these companies are trying to rebuild that trust.

At what cost? Who knows. The decisions these tech companies are making right now might not forebode well for their future. A time will come when the active users will demand access to the comprehensive investigation after censorship. They will be in an unwinnable race to satisfy both left and right-wing groups to keep them on the platform.

Online censorship is a slippery slope and these companies need to come up with a clear, transparent strategy on how to tackle it – fast!

Jordan Peterson: Dangerous Marxists Are Stifling Your Free Speech

Political Correctness started off as a ‘mad’ joke, now it’s a vicious social cancer threatening western civilization’s very foundations. Free speech is in a perilous state when you can’t even point out simple biological differences between men and women without losing your job (ask Google’s James Damore!).

According to Canadian clinical psychologist, Professor Jordan B. Peterson, the root philosophy underlying today’s Postmodern tyranny is Marxism. He states that:

“Postmodernism is the new skin the old Marxism now inhabits.”

Here’s Peterson’s argument.

Marxism’s Failure

Inspired by empathy for a downtrodden proletariat as well as resentment of the wealthy industrialists of capitalist economies, Marxism had long been popular at western universities.

However, by the ’60s all communist regimes were failing economically, and their appalling human rights’ records were becoming clear. The murderous death count from Mao’s China and Stalin’s Russia far outstripped even what the Nazis (masters of evil) ‘achieved’.

Even sympathetic western intellectuals could see that Marxism was discredited and the gig was up. If communism was dying, Marxism, as a fashionable position to hold, was dead.

The Rise of the Postmodernists

French thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, who questioned the objectivity of truth, became enormously popular on US campuses in the 1960s and ’70s.

These new postmodernists rejected the modernist belief in scientific certainty and fusty old terms like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Instead they discussed everything in terms of POWER relationships. Basically they were more Marxist than the Marxists themselves.

Where Marxism sees everything as a specific economic battle between workers and capitalists, Postmodernism takes it a step back and sees only struggles between oppressed and oppressors.

It could be white people against black, women against men, heterosexuals against transsexuals, or anything really. The only constant is that the enemy oppressor is usually drawn from the same group – white Christian Anglo-Americans.

Postmodernists use emotive rhetoric to showcase their compassion for the downtrodden, but Peterson claims they are only interested in the one reality they believe in – power, and the acquisition of it.

In order to achieve power, they are openly aware they must defeat the white Christians. They want to destroy everything our people have built!

SJW Tactics and Free Speech

Peterson says that the putative political goal of postmodernism is EQUITY, which means equality of outcome. For example, an SJW (Social Justice Warrior) examines the demographic balance at a certain company and finds that there are far more men than women.

This outrage is attributed to conscious or unconscious misogyny. A new quota of 50-50 is demanded. The company relents. A new complaint is made about the lack of black women. “Bigotry!”. “Racism!”. They relent. And on and on until the company’s output is ruined.

While the accusing Postmodernist SJW has acquired authority and prestige, everyone else is too terrified to complain. When someone does speak out, they are instantly pressurized into resigning, which is taken as a sign of guilt, and nothing changes.

Everyone else lives in fear. Speech is limited. Thinking is prevented. And truth vanishes.

What Peterson Advises: A 4-Step Plan

Peterson says that what we need to do is exactly what most people want.

1. Accept that people can and do differ not because of racial or gender oppression, but because of biological factors.

2. Allow the market to decide who is the best person for a job.

3. Let people practice good truthful thinking by giving them the freedom to express themselves publicly without fear of reprisals.

4. Most of all, Peterson advises that we take the fight to the postmodernists.

He is sure that they will turn tail and run when they see how strong we are. The problem today is that too many classical liberals and conservatives are not fighting. Let’s hope they start soon!

Changes In Law That Civilians Should Monitor

The Trump administration is changing many rules and acts that affect the quality of life of Americans and anyone else living or working in the United States. The administration has systematically embarked on reforming laws that affect labor, health and safety, consumer, and environmental protection. Below are the most important changes that people need to monitor.

1. Worker Protection

Fair Wages. In August 2017, the Trump administration suspended the EEO-1 pay data collection rule. The rule mandated employers with more than 100 employees to submit pay data records basing on race and gender. In May the same year, the white house proposed a merger between two agencies that prevent employee discrimination. However, businesses opposed this move.

Overtime Pay. The Trump administration also claimed that 4.2 million workers in the U.S. were undeserving of overtime pay. In many jobs, employees who work overtime (more than 40 hours a week) are to be paid 150% of the hourly wage or “time and a half” if they earn less than a certain annual income. In 2016, the Obama administration had raised this threshold from an annual income of $23,000 to $47, 479 but, a court ruled against the directive. In September 2017, the Trump administration announced it wouldn’t fight the court’s decision. This means that a good number of workers are not guaranteed extra pay if they work overtime.

Retirement accounts for workers. In April 2017, the Trump administration blocked a law that required the federal government to help local municipalities in establishing retirement accounts for low wage private workers.

2. Health and Safety

Expose to cancer-causing agents. The Department of Labor (D.O.L) has delayed the enforcement of rules that limit worker exposure to cancer-causing agents such as beryllium. The Dept. also failed to pass a rule that would necessitate the use of acceptable levels of crystalline silica in the building and construction industry.

Workplace accidents. Under President Trump, The D.O.L suspended a law requiring companies with over ten employees to electronically report injuries at the workplace. Such data would have been availed to the public via government websites.

Unsafe Companies securing government contracts. In March 2017, the Trump administration changed the Fair and Safe Workplaces rule which mandated businesses to disclose and correct violations of labors laws.

3. Consumer Protection

Financial advisers and clients’ interests. In August 2017, the Labor Department announced its plan to delay the enforcement of a section of the fiduciary law that touched on “best interests”. The section had required financial advisers to propose investments that gave the clients good returns and not investments that profited them.

Rules protecting senior citizens. The Trump administration has proposed to change the Obama rule that allowed senior citizens in nursing homes or their families to sue for abuse, replacing it with arbitration. This means that public records of abuse would no longer e available in nursing homes.

Availing Guns to the mentally ill. One of the most controversial changes made by the Trump administration was revoking of a rule that illegalized the sale of guns to people with mental illnesses which made them fail to manage their financial affairs.

4. Environmental Protection

Polluting drinking Water. In 2015, the 1972 Clean Water Act was amended by the Obama administration to specify the wetlands and waters under protection. However, the Trump government has proposed rectifying the 2015 amendments, and such a move could allow for more pollutants into wetlands and waterways.

Polluting the air. In March 2017, the Trump administration repelled the Clean Power Plan Act that had enacted by the Obama administration. The Act required states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

Global Warming. President Trump has made it clear that he intends to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aimed at controlling global warming. This is worrying considering other major economies have reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement.

The Five positive impacts of Brexit

Are you worried about the good impacts of Brexit? You’re not far away from the answers but just at the dot. The exit of Britain from the European Union has caused impacts to both sides. Their exit led to different meetings each day to curb the irregularities but the outcome was not positive. You may ask yourself the benefits they have achieved since they separated in their own way. Here below are some of the positive impacts of Brexit.

Improvement in the British manufacturing industries.

Industries are experiencing high sales due to fall in the British Sterling Pound. Over some decades manufacturing industries have been doing well due to high export form the country. This has led to increase in the country’s foreign exchange.

In addition, the weak Pound has resulted in high domestic orders which increases sales. Increased number of visitors in the United Kingdom (UK).

The European Union strict laws reduced the number of visitors who could visit the UK. The unskilled persons were not easily allowed in the region but only highly experienced individuals were given chance to work and invest in the UK.

This led to decline in the number of visitors who were able to visit the UK during their leisure and even as workers. With the introduction of Brexit, the policies were revisited and reestablished and you could easily tell by the number of people that do visit the UK currently.

In addition, visitors from abroad spend their currencies during traveling, accommodation, and even on attraction sites. This extra injection of cash into the region is much accepted since it earns revenues to the employees for better living standards.
Development of better trade deals with Russia.

You can easily guess the current business relationship between British and Russia. Brexit has opened up new ways and opportunities’ for the UK and Russia to bond strongly in business activities.

This has been put in place by allowing free movement by the eased ways of trading hence strengthening the business relationship between the two regions. Furthermore, the better trade deals enable employment opportunities between the two countries. This increases individual’s living standards through the earned revenues.

Advantage to the British Fisheries.

The European Unions placed some fishing policies which used to hinder fishing industries in British by reducing their sales. With the effect of Brexit, many leaders from the fisheries have shown some hopes. You can easily tell from how they argue about the industry’s failure in the past years. They hope for British industries being at the top in the export of fish products. Moreover, there are predictions about the UK being the leading in producing seafood after long time collapse due to strict regulations by the European Union.

Introduction of hangover-free booze

Long before there were alcoholic beverages that were dangerous to human health causing lots of stress and hangover. Brexit has enabled the production of synthetic alcohols, which get individuals to be tipsy but with no awful shame and pain following the next day. This has enabled them to drink responsibly without any stress of hangover or shame hence not causing risk to their lives.

With the introduction of Brexit, good impacts have followed in British. People are able to enjoy the freedom of traveling, trading, and having of fun.

How the government hurts small business and job growth with over regulation

The Government is the body that governs a state, nation or community while Small businesses are those businesses that are owned and operated independently and are limited in revenue and in size depending on the type of industry. Job Growth is the component of a situation abstract of employment that is reported by the Bureau of Labour and Statistics on a monthly basis. It is further expressed as the total number of jobs that were created and available in the previous month. The government has been coming up with tough regulation rules imposed and suggested through its legislators.

The rules are lengthy and extremely strict on reference to the unending grievances and complaints from the small business owners and operators. The regulation rules seem to mainly affect those small businesses that are situated in the local regions of the states.

The main objective of the government in imposing the use of these regulations is to protect many employees who mainly operate in the low-income brackets by raising the costs of their employers. The end result of the game is that it turns out to be negative, as both the employers and their employees end up hurt in ways such as; the employers lower the basic salary rates for their workers, which in turn lowers the income earning rates to a lower degree.

The employees’ cost of living is also negatively affected tremendously. Upon the imposition of the small business regulation act rules, the owners are only left with two options i.e. to either quit the game or to continue working, in turn, impose their own job regulation terms which will ensure that they achieve the maximum profit from their toil. The operators are made to cut the spending cost to the lowest scale as possible. At the rear end, the only people who end up hurt most are the employees, who receive the heaviest blow on their faces. One should note that the main goal of an entrepreneur is to maximise profits while minimising losses.

Some of the growing small business such as restaurants and liquor stores face the most unbearable challenges from the Government’s regulations in some ways such as;

· The operators willing to start the businesses are faced with the long and tedious process of registering their business and issuing them with a go-ahead business license. For example, in New York City if an operator wants to open a liquor store, he/she must first have to wait for a minimum of three/four months in order to perceive whether the community will allow him/her to either continue or not and for the operator to get the liquor licence from the respective authorized state authorities.

· The authorities are also mandated with the responsibility of either accepting or denying the owner a business license regardless of whether the community board had ascertained the establishment of the small business.

· Some of the business permits and inspections of the location areas where the businesses are to be situated, by the government are also extra lengthy and tedious hence jeopardizing most of the valid owner’s dreams. The process may take up to one year before it’s finally done up with.

· The labor laws e.g. law of spread hours which state that an employee is added an extra additional hour at seven dollars minimum wage must be paid to any worker who works an extra second while off his/her scheduled ten-hour shift. This has, in turn, made the employers lower the employees’ earnings which have also decreased their productivity due to the lack of motivation among the workers.

The Government’s role in hurting small businesses has been seen as a major contributor. Therefore the different bodies of the Government that are responsible for establishing and imposing the regulations acts should only do so with a closer look at the end results of their enactments. In turn, the Government should try to minimise those regulations in order to help the general growth of the small businesses, their owners, and their employees which will result in an increase in the gross job growth in the states.


1. John Irons, Isaac Shapiro. (April 12, 2011) Regulation, Employment, and the Economy. Institute of economic policy.

Why Wrong Dismissal Cases have Become Difficult to Win for Employees

In recent times, wrongful dismissal cases have become increasingly controversial. For instance, in the late 1980’s, a series of court of appeals decisions in the State of California gave a good number of employees grounds to recover damages on the basis of emotional distress. This was after it had been established that their employers’ decisions to fire them were in bad faith. In some of the cases, the verdicts reached several million dollars.

In trying to understand wrongful dismissal, it is important to note that “wrongful dismissal” is not the same as being fired without a “good reason”. Employers are within their rights to fire any of their employees at any stage of an employment relationship as long as they provide “reasonable notice”. Wrongful dismissal occurs where the dismissal is in clear breach of contract. In most cases, a wrongful dismissal occurs where an employee is dismissed by an employer without notice at all or with insufficient notice against the terms of the contract.

What makes wrongful dismissal cases difficult to win for employees?

The hardest part in a wrongful termination case is proving motive. In order to win, an employee must clearly demonstrate that there was an illegal motivation on the part of the employer. A good example is where an employee is dismissed due to his or her sex, race or national origin. Employers have a great advantage in most cases as it is easy for them to provide legitimate explanations even in cases where they acted with illegal motives. It is very rare for an employer to admit that he acted with an illegal motive.

While age discrimination was always an easy ground for wrongful dismissal for older employees in years gone by, it has become increasingly difficult to win on this ground in recent times. This is partly because older employees tend to earn higher wages. Making sure you hire a Law Firm will be key to ensuring you can face this issue. It’s easy for companies who wrongfully dismiss employees to claim that they are simply trying to balance their books, and use a plethora of excuses – so be ready to arm yourself legally.

Are wrongful dismissal cases about reinstatement?

Most wrongful dismissal cases are not about employees getting their jobs back. They are about MONEY. A dismissed employee seeks to get as much money as possible in accordance with his or her circumstances. However, being terminated without a good reason is not sufficient ground to be awarded money by a court.

Here are examples of cases in which employees have won wrongful termination cases against all odds:

Debra Moreno

The 54-year-old employee of a healthcare company in Honolulu was awarded $193,236 by a U.S. District Court in July 2012. After being fired four years earlier, she later learned that her boss had made some disparaging remarks about her to other employees. In his remarks, the company owner had used phrases like “sounds old” and “bag of bones” in reference to Moreno’s voice and appearance. She used those remarks to win her lawsuit.

Matthew Niswonger

After a close shave during while replacing an electrical pole in Ben Lomond in 2011, the PG&E employee would make a safety complaint saying he felt unsafe while working and was suffering from panic attacks and anxiety. After a month-long absence from work, his supervisor asked him to come back to work or explain the absence. After refusing to return to work, he was fired through a voicemail in the same year.

A Santa Cruz County judge awarded him $595,615 in lost wages and $500,000 more for emotional distress after it was established that his termination was linked to his safety complaint. His employer was also ordered to pay his legal fees.

Top 10 Celebrity Screw-ups in the Court Room

Being a Hollywood star does not protect you from the law of the state and even the rich and famous can land up in trouble with the law from time to time. Here are ten stories of criminal inquiries against celebrities in court:

1. Robert Downey Jr

It seems that the Iron Man was not always as we see him today. In his younger days, Robert Downy Jr had a lot of trouble with drugs like heroin and cocaine which saw him in court a number of times. In 1999, he was sentenced to serve 3 years in prison. However, this sentence was brought down to a year of rehab at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison. In December 1997, he was sent to jail for 6 months for violating parole on a previous drug sentence.

2. Michael Jackson

In 2005, Michael Jackson was charged with 14 counts which included molesting a minor, drugging a minor and holding a minor captive. Jackson pleaded innocent on all the 14 counts and had claimed that although he had befriended and had slept in the same room with the 13-year-old, he had not molested or drugged him. The case ended up with Jackson being found not guilty of all the fourteen charges.

3. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, as we know her, is the most loved talk show host on Television. However in 1998, Texas cattlemen sued her claiming that a broadcast of her show in 1996 hurt their business. On that show, Oprah had a conversation about the mad cow disease that broke out in England which, the Texas cattlemen claimed, had damaged the beef industry. The trial ended with Oprah being exonerated.

4. Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan has had quite many run-ins with the court on accounts of drug possession, driving under influence and driving on a suspended license. However, Lohan seems to be unable to abide by her plea deals and often faces backlash for not showing up in court for mandatory meetings and failing to complete her community service.

5. Naomi Campbell

Naomi was booked for assault on four different occasions. In February 2000, Naomi was accused and later held guilty for attacking her personal assistant with a mobile phone. Again in 2007, Naomi was held guilty for assaulting her housekeeper. In both the cases she was sentenced to attend anger management classes and had to bear the victim’s medical expenses. Again in 2008, Campbell was found guilty of assaulting two police officers on duty at London Heathrow Airport. She was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and fined £2,300. In July 2015, Campbell was arrested for attacking a paparazzo photographer who was trying to click her pictures. She was sentenced to six months’ probation.

6. Paris Hilton

Reality TV star Paris Hilton served a jail sentence of 45 days for driving with a suspended license. She later appeared in court in 2010 after being charged on two counts: illegal drug possession and obstructing a police officer, for which she served one year in probation.

7. Charlie Chaplin

In the 1940s, the much loved star Charlie Chaplin had his career in jeopardy when a pregnant actress named Joan Barry filed a paternity suit against him. Eventually doctors proved that Chaplin was not the father of the child, but he still had to pay child support as the public had turned strongly against him.

8. Tulisa Contostavlos

In 2013, singer and former X-factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos was arrested for allegedly supplying drugs. The trial, which kicked off in 2014, later collapsed as the judge found the key witness to be lying.

9. Justin Bieber

In 2014, Bieber was arrested for drunk driving and appeared in court. Although the case was settled with a plea bargain, he was arrested again on a similar count a few months later.

10. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard were charged for illegally smuggling their pet dogs, Pistol and Boo, into Australia when they arrived by a private jet. They later released a video apology to the country for their crime.

Why Small Businesses Ultimately Suffer The Most From Minimum Wage

minimum wage

A minimum wage is the lowest wage an employer can legally pay his or her workers. There are two schools of thought on minimum wage. First, the supply-side economists say the wage of a worker should be determined by the level of skills and the market forces. On the other hand, the demand-side economists see the minimum wage as a means of lifting unskilled workers out of poverty. However, multiple studies suggest that, the minimum wage has `no preference’ benefits to small businesses. Let me walk you through some of the reasons why small businesses ultimately suffer the most from minimum wage;

Increase in labor costs

Once the government sets the minimum wage, the small businesses will have to bear the upward pressure of labor costs. However, the wage increase might not be sustainable in the long-run. This extra cost of labor will be passed to consumers. Alternatively, the business might be forced to reduce the number of skilled employees to keep up with the minimum wage. This extra cost can lead to increase in prices of products. When the prices are too high, you will lose your customers to other business selling the same line of products. Customers will always buy reasonably priced products. In case of unprecedented economic move, this is likely to do more harm than good to the business.

Decreased sales, revenues and profits

When employees are overworked, they become less productive. Further, they will offer poor customer service and will be more prone to errors. More work means that employees will be less motivated. This can also lead to absenteeism which affects the general performance of the business. Secondly, during the low season, the business is likely to make less or no profit. In fact, some business might be forced to close down once they are unable to meet the high cost of labor.

The cost of training increases

As the wage rises, it becomes more difficult for small businesses to hire more skilled workers. Business owners will be forced to go for the unskilled labor. To ensure they perform as per the expectation, the unskilled workers must be trained. Sometimes it becomes difficult to estimate the cost of training. The cost can be higher than hiring skilled labor.

Start-up small business may take long to break-even

Every person who starts a business calculates the payback period. If you are new in business and your resources are limited, it will take much longer for the business to break-even. When the minimum wage increases, the business owner will be forced to either get rid of some employees or pump in more cash to meet the extra cost of labor. This means, the business owner will have to be patient to recover his or her initial cash outlay. In some cases, the payback period might not be realistic which can make the business owner do away with the business. When one has no preference to skilled labor, the business might never get started.

Economists believe polices should not be judged by their intentions but rather by their results. After rigorous analysis, it’s clear that the minimum wage increase will always do more harm than good to small business.

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc – An Interesting Corporate Legal Case

The case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is a landmark case decided in 2014, by the Supreme Court. The decision held that a for-profit corporation could be exempt from regulations the owners religiously object to, provided there is another less restrictive way to further the interests of the law. This was the high court interpretation of the provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This decision is important because this is the first time the court has recognized that the owners of for-profit corporations can have rights to claim religious exemptions for “closely held” companies.

The U. S. Department of Human Services adopted a regulation under the Affordable Care Act that required employers to provide all female employees with access to certain contraceptives that the company was then required to pay for under their health plan. The court ordered a government-sponsored female birth control alternative for female employees of these“closely held” companies whose owners had religious objections to providing contraceptives to its employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services is required to specify all the preventative care that companies are required to provide to their employees in the company health plan, under the Affordable Care Act. The DHHS approved all 20 forms for female contraceptives as preventative care that must be covered by all employee sponsored health plans. Certain religious and non-profit groups were exempted, but most for-profit corporations were subject to these new regulations under the ACA.

In 2012, The Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties filed a lawsuit stating that their “closely-held” for-profit corporations were founded on Christian beliefs that were in direct conflict with the preventative contraceptive requirements the DHHS had required companies to provide its employees with. They claimed that their companies had been founded on strong Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and to provide contraception to it employees would be the same as constituting abortion.

In a 5-4 decision made on June 30, 2014 five justices of the Supreme Court joined together to strike down the mandate made by the DHHS. They determined that corporations cannot be compelled to provide contraceptives to its employees under their corporate health plans if they refuse to do so for religious reasons.

The court did not look at any first amendment issues. Rather it reasoned that the DHHS can consider non-profit corporations to be “persons” under the RFRA so it should follow that in some circumstances for-profit corporations should also be able to be considered a “person” under RFRA. The justices also looked at a 1993 federal statute that exempted health care entities from taking part in “certain activities related to abortion.”

There is already a mechanism in place to provide for contraceptives of employees from non-profit organizations that do not pay for birth control due to religious exemptions. The Supreme Court used this to support the majority opinion that the female employees of affected for-profit corporations could be treated in the same manner as those in the non-profit corporations are.

This decision is important because it further advances the concept that both non-profit and for-profit corporations can be viewed as “persons” in their own right when applying legal rights and obligations upon them. It remains to be seen how granting religious exemptions for this matter to these “people” will affect the legal landscape in the years to come.