Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations Are Not Entitled to Religious Exemptions

Author(s): 
Caroline Mala Corbin
Publication Date: 
January 23, 2014

ACS is pleased to distribute “Corporate Religious Liberty: Why Corporations Are Not Entitled to Religious Exemptions,” an Issue Brief by Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law.

In the Issue Brief, the author explains why the claims to a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate” asserted by for-profit corporations Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties are “theoretically unjustified, without precedent, and potentially very harmful.” Corbin argues that free exercise is understood to protect “the religious conscience of human beings,” not for-profit corporations that “do not have a relationship with God” and “do not feel shame or sorrow for failing to fulfill their religious duties.” Citizens United, in which the Supreme Court held that corporate political speech is protected by the First Amendment, does not help the plaintiffs, Corbin contends, since “corporate free speech is protected because of audiences’ free speech right to receive political information rather than corporations’ free speech right to speak.” Finally, Corbin points out that “recognizing corporate religious liberty will benefit employers at the expense of their employees, who risk losing protection of the employment laws as well as their own free exercise rights.”