Judge Cites Hobby Lobby To Excuse Fundamentalist Mormon From Child Labor Testimony

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by steve knight, Sep 19, 2014.

  1. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    #1
    so hobby lobby's ruling seems to be causing all kinds of fun.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/hobby-lobby-testimony-mormon-child-labor_n_5844696.html
    Less than three months after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg warned about the widespread repercussions of the Supreme Court’s majority decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a federal judge in Utah has cited the controversial ruling in his decision to excuse a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from testifying in a child labor investigation.

    Since 2012, the Department of Labor has been investigating the Mormon sect over allegations that church leaders ordered children to be removed from school to harvest pecans on a private ranch, without pay, for up to eight hours a day.

    Church member Vergel Steed refused to answer basic questions about the investigation in a January deposition, on the grounds that divulging information related to the church violated his religious vows. Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Sam ruled that Steed could not be forced to answer the investigators' questions about the Mormon sect or its leaders.

    Citing the Supreme Court’s June ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which allows closely held corporations to opt out of providing contraception coverage for their employees based on religious objections, Sam argued that forcing Steed to answer the Labor Department's questions would place a “substantial burden” on his religious beliefs.

    “It is not for the Court to ‘inquir[e] into the theological merit of the belief in question,” Sam wrote. “‘The determination of what is a ‘religious’ belief or practice is more often than not a difficult and delicate task …. However, the resolution of that question is not to turn upon a judicial perception of the particular belief or practice in question; religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection.”
     
  2. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #2
    child "labor" is a slippery slope, I worked since age 11 after school to help out, I was lucky, some of my brothers/sisters worked since age 7. all to help the family. not sure how things are viewed HERE. I can see both sides of the argument, a kid needs school at the same time some families are not in a position to simply let things be.
     
  3. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #3
    I see several problems with this case. The first being that this is an agricultural or farm job. The second depends on who owns the farm. When I was a kid growing up we worked eight or more hours per day on non-school days and at least four or five hours on school days but it was a family farm. Therefore exempt from child labor laws.

    Parental Exemption
     
  4. lannister80 macrumors 6502

    lannister80

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    #4
    Have they added a Chinese restaurant exception? If not, there's a LOT of law violating going on...
     
  5. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #5
    they should . work where you can to help family out.
     
  6. Technarchy macrumors 604

    Technarchy

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  7. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #7
    His hard drive could fail... :cool:
     
  8. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #8
    I hope we can get away from the child labor question and focus on the actual issue.

    The Department of Labor wanted Steed to testify and he refused based on religious grounds, meaning that anyone could theoretically refuse to testify without consequence.

    This is a significant issue created by a bad judgement from the justices at SCOTUS.
     
  9. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #9



    A Republican in the WH in 2016 scares me as the next President will likely appoint at least 2 SC justices.
     
  10. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #10
    Was it created by the Hobby Lobby ruling? I'm not so sure.

    An extant example is priest-penitent privilege:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest-penitent_privilege#United_States_of_America

    When this privilege exists, it's because of religious vows taken by the priest (or other confessor). US courts have recognized this privilege since at least the early 1800's:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessional_privilege_(United_States)

    So if a priest or other clergy is permitted to withhold information that may bear directly on the culpability of another, then why wouldn't other religious vows or oaths fall under the same principle?

    If there are limits to this privilege, e.g. under RFRA, exactly what are they, or what should they be?
     
  11. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #11

    Since the judge cited the HL ruling and not your examples, I'd say yes, it is the HL ruling.
     
  12. chown33, Sep 19, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2014

    chown33 macrumors 604

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    #12
    I was questioning whether the HL ruling created the issue. I would fully expect the judge to cite a recent SC ruling when justifying a decision, but that doesn't necessarily imply that the cited ruling created the issue.

    For example, before Hobby Lobby, RFRA and other laws governed the privileges of individuals engaged in religious expression. There was little or no question that these laws applied to individuals. The HL ruling clarified that RFRA also applied to groups of people, and to juridical persons, at least under some circumstances. It also clarified the government's obligation on intrusiveness into religious practice, and in that respect it applies to individuals as well.

    I'm not questioning whether the Hobby Lobby ruling applies or not. I'm just questioning whether it created the issue.

    EDIT
    Here's the actual District Court ruling:
    https://ecf.utd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?213cv0281-121

    It's only 9 pages, and not a difficult read. Here's a notable extract from page 1:
    During sworn testimony pursuant to subpoena on January 6, 2014, Vernon Steed,
    invoking the First Amendment, objected to Petitioner’s questions posed to him about the
    internal affairs and organization of the FLDS Church.[1] At Petitioner’s request, Magistrate
    Judge Evelyn Furse intervened. Petitioner requested that the Magistrate Judge compel
    Mr. Steed to answer the questions posed to him, or face a finding of contempt with
    sanctions of incarceration as well as a fine of $1,000. a day until he answers the questions.

    [1] Mr. Steed, however, did give testimony that he had no firsthand knowledge about
    the pecan harvest or the involvement of the FLDS Church in that harvest.
    In other words, he's objecting to being forced to answer "questions posed to him about the internal affairs and organization of the FLDS Church." He's not objecting to answering questions about the pecan harvest.

    The rest of the ruling discusses RFRA, applicability, and whether Mr. Steed's belief falls under a "sincerely held religious belief" as described under RFRA. It also covers the "substantial burden" question, and "compelling interest/least restrictive means". On that last point, the ruling says:
    Here, the matter quickly is resolved by skipping directly to the least
    restrictive means requirement. Petitioner [i.e. the Department of Labor]
    has failed to show that forcing Mr. Steed to
    answer the questions offensive to his sincerely held religious beliefs is the least restrictive
    means to advance any compelling interest it may have. For example, as a less restrictive
    alternative, Petitioner can continue with its efforts to obtain needed information from
    Paragon Contractors Corporation, Brian Jessop, Dale Barlow and others who contracted
    to manage the pecan ranch. See Hobby Lobby, 134 S.Ct. at *2780 (“The least-restrictive-
    means standard is exceptionally demanding...” and is not satisfied where the party
    imposing the burden “has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal
    without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the objecting
    part[y]...”).
     
  13. steve knight thread starter macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    #13
    but for no pay? 8 hours a day? no they are just using faith to justify it. scientology does the same things.
     
  14. G51989 macrumors 68030

    G51989

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    #14
    Christians get special treatment in America.
     
  15. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

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    #15
    But the privilege extended to priests is not purely religious, that privilege is also given to lawyers and psychologists/psychoanalysts/psychiatrists. It is there in order that a client may speak freely on a subject and expect confidentiality. Otherwise, it could be difficult for these professionals to do their jobs.
     
  16. iBlazed macrumors 68000

    iBlazed

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    #16
    Bite your tongue.
     
  17. jkcerda macrumors 6502

    jkcerda

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    #17
    I got no pay, helping family was more than enough, no need for religion to enter here.
     
  18. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #18
    Ever live on a farm? We worked better than 40 hours per week. No salary, no minimum wage.
     
  19. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

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    #19
    I agree with you about this part.

    Actually, I find it a difficult read. Not because of the language, but, because of the logic. Logically, it makes no sense to me.

    So, I'm left with an overall impression, which is that if I say that testifying about something violates my ("sincerely held") religious beliefs, I can't be compelled to testify. Can any criminal enterprise be protected just by saying that discussing it violates religious beliefs?

    That seems nothing short of bizarre to me. Why should the courts have to tiptoe around every time someone mentions (sincerely held) "religious beliefs"?
     
  20. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #20
    No person has a duty to testify against themselves. Yes, he chose to say it was religious beliefs but he could just have easily said "I plead the 5th."
     
  21. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    #21
    You living and working on your parents farm as a child has no similarities whatsoever to a religious cult forcing kids in their indoctrination school to work on a private farm.


    And let's be real. Yeah, your parents didn't pay you "salary" for working on the family farm as a kid... but who the hell paid for your housing, food, clothing, etc?
     
  22. Southern Dad macrumors 65816

    Southern Dad

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    #22
    That is very true. My parents paid for my housing. This parents in this cult are also paying for their children's roof over their head. I'm not agreeing with child labor, I'm just saying this isn't new.
     
  23. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #23
    Yeah, but it's not the parents having their kids work on their family farm.

    It's cult leaders ordering kids to work on a different private farm.
     
  24. G51989 macrumors 68030

    G51989

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    #24
    Indeed, it would spell the end of America,.

    ----------

    Ah.

    So you support enslaving kids without pay.

    ----------

    Yes you are. You want to force it on the next generation because you had a bad childhood, and want future generations to be enslaved.
     
  25. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #25
    Hang on a cotton-picking minute (as it were)! 40 hours is a perfectly reasonable working week for a five-year old. Keeps 'em fit and leaves plenty of time for home schoolin'.
     

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