State and Local Legal Blog

Corporate Free Exercise of Religion | March 10, 2014

On Monday I talked about corporations that desire to raise their free exercise rights in order to abstain from providing services required by the ACA.  Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner, a 7th Circuit dissenter, said:  “…it is the corporation, rather than the Kortes individually which will pay for the insurance coverage….the corporate form may not be dispositive of the claims raised in this litigation, but neither is it meaningless:  It does separate the Kortes, in some real measure, from the actions of their company….”  She is also quoted as noting in her dissent in Grote:  “the obligation to cover controceptives falls not on the Grotes personally but on Grote Industries’ health care plan.”

Leslie Griffin, a constitutional law professor at UNLV says:  “Secular, for-profit corporations cannot exercise religion….Running a business is not the exercise of religion.  Providing insurance coverage is not the exercise of religion.  It is a mistake to think of every moral belief as an exercise of religion.  [Using the RFRA] to advantage religious, secular, for-profit companies violates the establishment clause by giving religious businesses a leg up in commercial competition.  It is not protecting religious liberty in any way.  Griffin is joined by Marci Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo School of Law, who opines:  “Whatever their beliefs, the federal law did not impose a substantial burden…if anything, it is an indirect burden several times removed.  These businesses are not going to prevail and they shouldn’t.”

How do you feel about all of this?


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