Corporate Religious Liberty
Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 30, p.277, 2015
32 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2013 Last revised: 7 Jul 2015
Date Written: February 1, 2015
Do for-profit corporations have a right to religious liberty? This question was before the Supreme Court for the first time in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate.” According to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the answer is yes: for-profit corporations are “persons” entitled to religious exemptions under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
This Article argues that there is no principled basis for granting religious liberty exemptions to for-profit corporations. For-profit corporations do not possess the inherently human characteristics that justify religious exemptions for individuals. For-profit corporations also lack the unique qualities that justify exemptions for religious associations such as churches. Finally, corporate religious liberty risks trampling on the employment rights and religious liberty of individual employees.
Keywords: corporations, free exercise, religious liberty, Religious Freedom Restoration Act, RFRA, contraception, health care, reproductive rights, corporate rights, Citizens United
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