Nike Stops Arguing It Has the Right to Lie

It's hard to believe that a company would actually argue in the Supreme Court that it has the right to lie about working conditions for its laborers. But Nike did just that. Fortunately, the Supreme Court tossed the case after oral arguments, and it reverted to the California Supreme Court, so Nike settled.

Some hard-core capitalists will argue that a company has the obligation to produce profits for its shareholders, and thus must not consider morality when deciding what to do. To defeat this argument, it is only necessary to state it; clearly, any enterprise that cannot by its nature consider morality is by its nature immoral. Those involved in the enterprise might think of themselves as amoral, with some justification; but in the end, such amorality allows immorality. Refusing to consider the morality of an action is like refusing to consider the political implications of an action. The action still has those implications, whether or not they are considered. Paying people starvation wages is immoral, even if the decision was made on an amoral basis.

The best thing about the Nike case is not that Nike's been fined for lying; it never admitted lying, and the settlement does not require it to admit anything at all. The best thing is this:

It could be some time until another case that challenges the California law reaches the Supreme Court, said Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard law professor who represented Nike.

For businesses, he said, "this is a cloud that I'm afraid can last for quite a while."

Couldn't happen to a more deserving group of folks.

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