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Corporate Religious Liberty

50 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2014 Last revised: 30 Jan 2014

Caroline Mala Corbin

University of Miami School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 24, 2014

Abstract

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.

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

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

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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