Corporate Religious Liberty

Caroline Mala Corbin

University of Miami School of Law

January 24, 2014

Do for-profit corporations have a right to religious liberty? This question is front and center in two cases before the Supreme Court challenging the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate.” Whether for-profit corporations are entitled to religious exemptions is a question of first impression. Most scholars writing on this issue argue that for-profit corporations do have the right to religious liberty, especially after the Supreme Court recognized that for-profit corporations have the right to free speech in Citizens United.

This essay argues that for-profit corporations should not – and do not – have religious liberty rights. First, 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 churches. Citizens United fails to provide a justification as its protection for corporate speech is based on the rights of audiences and not the rights of corporate speakers. Second, as a matter of current law, neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Religious Freedom Restoration Act recognizes the religious rights of for-profit corporations. Finally, corporate religious liberty risks trampling on the employment rights and religious liberty of individual employees.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 50

Keywords: Free Exercise, RFRA, religion, exemptions, corporations, contraception, mandate, ACA, health care, employees, women, abortion, reproductive rights, Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, Citizens United

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Date posted: January 26, 2014 ; Last revised: January 30, 2014

Suggested Citation

Corbin, Caroline Mala, Corporate Religious Liberty (January 24, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2384963 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2384963

Contact Information

Caroline Mala Corbin (Contact Author)
University of Miami School of Law ( email )
1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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