The Naked Private Square
Ronald J. Colombo
Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law
September 22, 2013
Houston Law Review, Vol. 51, 2013
Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-26
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 89
Keywords: Free Exercise, Citizens United, Expressive Association, Religious Corporation, First Amendment, Benefit Corporation, B Corporation, Corporate Rights
JEL Classification: K19, K22, L20
Date posted: November 10, 2012 ; Last revised: September 27, 2013