The Naked Private Square

89 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2012 Last revised: 27 Sep 2013

Ronald J. Colombo

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: September 22, 2013

Abstract

In the latter half of the twentieth century, America witnessed the construction of a “wall of separation” between religion and the public square. What had once been commonplace (such as prayer in public schools, and religious symbols on public property) had suddenly become verboten. This phenomenon is well known and has been well studied.

Less well known (and less well studied) has been the parallel phenomenon of religion’s expulsion from the private square. Employment law, corporate law, and constitutional law have worked to impede the ability of business enterprises to adopt, pursue, and maintain distinctively religious personae. This is undesirable because religious freedom does not truly and fully exist if religion expression and practice is restricted to the private quarters of one’s home or temple.

Fortunately, a corrective to this situation exists: recognition of the right to free exercise of religion on the part of business corporations. Such a right has been long in the making, and the jurisprudential trajectory of the courts (especially the U.S. Supreme Court), combined with the increased assertion of this right against certain elements of the current regulatory onslaught, suggests that its recognition is imminent.

Keywords: Free Exercise, Citizens United, Expressive Association, Religious Corporation, First Amendment, Benefit Corporation, B Corporation, Corporate Rights

JEL Classification: K19, K22, L20

Suggested Citation

Colombo, Ronald J., The Naked Private Square (September 22, 2013). Houston Law Review, Vol. 51, 2013; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2173801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2173801

Ronald J. Colombo (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Law/index_Law.cfm

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