The Supreme Court has been in the news a lot this past week due to its ruling in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case. I’m not going to elaborate on my opinion of the case here, but I do want to ask a serious question: what can people who feel that this was the wrong decision do to fix it? As far as I can tell, there are only two ways to overrule a Supreme Court decision: amend the Constitution or have the court overrule itself by hearing a new case that addresses the same constitutional issues.
Amending the Constitution
This is impractical for myriad reasons. Constitutional amendments are difficult to pass, for good reason, but with a legislative branch that is beyond dysfunctional to begin with I don’t have much hope for an amendment getting through stating the obvious, “You have to treat every person equally, seriously, everyone. Oh, and a person is a human being, not a company, just in case anyone is ridiculous enough to conflate the two.”
The Court Overruling Itself
The court can overrule itself by hearing a case that addresses the same constitutional issue, but does so in a different way than the earlier case. The latter point is important. If it’s the same exact circumstance the court won’t address it, its precedent will be considered by lower courts when making decisions and it’ll never make it to the Supreme Court.
Even if someone would come up with a case that addresses this issue of corporate personhood and all of the yuckiness that it’s proving to unleash, that case would very likely be heard by the same people who made the current unpopular decisions.
Do we just wait for the composition of the court to change? That can take years, or decades, and companies (or are they people?) took less than a week to start publicly pleading how their rights were being infringed upon for other reasons. Corporate personhood was a bad idea to begin with, but this has to stop.