Author Topic: Polygamists Use Hobby Lobby Decision To avoid Question On Child Labor  (Read 894 times)

Offline stromboli

The U.S. Department of Labor had some more questions for Vergel Steed.

Specifically, the department wanted Steed to answer some questions about the workings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

But a judge last week said Steed doesn’t have to answer. The why is making the rounds on blogs dedicated to religion as well as to labor and the law.

Judge David Sam cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in saying Steed had a First Amendment right not to testify. (Click here to read the ruling from Sam.)

The subpoena sent to Steed stems from the U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the 2012 nut harvest at a pecan ranch near Hurricane. Companies believed to be controlled by the FLDS or its members own the farm and the company, Paragon Contractors, that manage the farm.

But the Labor Department has evidence much of the work was done by children as well as adults who were not paid for their work. The Labor Department has been deposing FLDS members, including Lyle Jeffs, brother of Warren Jeffs, and officers at Paragon.

During Steed’s deposition in January, Steed testified he had no first-hand knowledge of the harvest. When a Labor Department attorney tried to inquire about the working of the FLDS Church, according to court documents, Steed cited the First Amendment and refused to answer.

A federal magistrate later filed an order compelling Steed to answer the questions. But last week, Sam reversed that. (Sam’s ruling gave Steed’s first name as Vernon, but the court docket shows it’s really Vergel Steed.)

Updated with Vergel Steed’s correct first name and more about his relationship to the FLDS.

The U.S. Department of Labor had some more questions for Vergel Steed.
Sam said the government has other ways to find the information it wants about potential labor violations.

"Petitioner 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...."
While the ruling immediately impacts — but does not necessarily stop — the Labor Department’s efforts to learn about the Hurricane nut harvest, the religious and legal blogs are focused on the role of the "Hobby Lobby" decision. That Supreme Court case said employers claiming religious beliefs do not have to provide low-cost contraception to women employees.

"The case of the Catholic confessional comes immediately to mind, since its seal of secrecy has also been recently called into question. Both situations involve potential abuse of children, albeit different forms of abuse. At least one other distinction between them, though, is that the Catholic confessional concerns one discrete piece of a religious organization — a clearly demarcated event — while the FLDS is claiming secrecy regarding any internal matters of its church."

The Labor Department has asked about the FLDS Church because it believes children and other unpaid workers were ordered to help harvest nuts by Lyle Jeffs. The Labor Department has a voicemail recording it believes to be from Lyle Jeffs telling the FLDS’s private school to close and instructing people on when to be at the Southern Utah Pecan Ranch. Steed has a bachelor’s degree in education and has worked at the school.

When Labor Department attorney Karen Bobela asked Steed during his deposition if he is employed by the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the corporate name of the FLDS, Steed objected.

"I feel that’s a religious question I should not answer," Steed said.

This case is a prime example of what was done by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby decision. When the decision was read, many authorities said it would have widespread implications; and here we see it. Thank you, SCOTUS, for giving the religious another shield to hide their misdeeds behind.

Offline Johan

Re: Polygamists Use Hobby Lobby Decision To avoid Question On Child Labor
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2014, 06:52:24 AM »
I suspect this is only the beginning of this sort of shit.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false and by the rulers as useful

Offline SGOS

Re: Polygamists Use Hobby Lobby Decision To avoid Question On Child Labor
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2014, 07:40:51 AM »
Yep.  I saw that coming.