The Risks of a Poorly Decided Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby has the potential to redefine religious liberty to promote discrimination and unfair advantages in the corporate world.

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This term, the Supreme Court will rule on whether the religious beliefs of the owners of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a for-profit, secular corporation, can be used as justification to deny the company’s employees the contraceptive health coverage they are entitled to under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The U.S. Constitution, federal laws such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and an exemption to the ACA’s contraception rule  have historically protected faith-based entities—such as churches and religiously affiliated hospitals and universities—from taking actions at odds with their religious beliefs.

The right to the free exercise of religion, however, has never been a right that secular businesses claimed to possess,  and it has never been part of religious liberty for a business to foist its owner’s religious views on its employees or customers. The infamous Citizens Unitedcase held that corporations are entitled to First Amendment rights in the form of political donations.  This term, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius may go even further, expanding the religious liberties traditionally enjoyed by individuals and religious entities to a secular corporation.

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