I need four responses of at least 150 words each for the below students discussions for this week. Also in the bold below are the questions the students at answering.
Consider the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case in your Week 2 Lessons required readings. What are the constitutional implications on business exemplified by this case? Which constitutional provisions were at issue? Hobby Lobby Stores is a family owned business. Do you think this made a difference in the court’s consideration of Hobby Lobby’s religious freedom argument? Would the same argument work for a large publicly held corporation like IBM? Should it? If not, why is there a constitutional distinction? Finally, the article by Kelsey Dallas (also in your readings) posits that the Hobby Lobby case has both hurt and helped religious freedom. How so? Do you agree? Should a business be able to invoke the 1st Amendment protection at all? (For this last question you might want to take a look at the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Citizens United case.)
Please clearly and thoroughly discuss these questions in a well organized post and utilize research sources in support of your essay (see rubric).
Note: Dictionaries and encyclopedias and web “info” sites are not acceptable outside research. Wikipedia in particular is a huge NO NO. Do real research. Do not knee jerk to Google unless it is Google Scholar. Use APUS Library (which accesses Google Scholar among other databases).
The Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. case remains a controversial one, and had numerous constitutional implications as well as bringing into question religious implications and the rule of law. In a Supreme Court 5-4 decision, it was decided that a for profit owned company (Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.) had the right to freely exercise their religion, and as a result they did not have to follow the governments (Affordable Care Act) contraceptive requirement for female employees.
How did we get there? There were numerous for profit companies that voiced their concerns (in 2014) and complaints about the Affordable Care Act mandating that they, as employers, had to provide insurance for contraceptives for their female employees, and that they believed this to infringe upon their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion (Burwell V. Hobby Lobby, 134 S. Ct. 2751, 2014). The case was first heard in the Third Circuit court and then the Tenth Circuit Court where they were split on their decisions; the case was then seen in the Supreme Court which agreed with the Tenth Circuit court (in a 5-4 partisan vote) that for profit companies had the right to free exercise of religion. This decision did not come without controversy and backlash however. Some viewed this as a victory for religious freedoms, stating that it was not the governments position to determine what corporate owners or citizens religious convictions were and to demand or mandate that they commit what they perceived to be as murder (many believed that life begins at conception), and others viewed this as an assault on the rule of law, giving owners power to ignore others rights with impunity (Harvard Journal of Law, 2015).
Justice Ruth Ginsberg wrote an incredible dissenting opinion that I believe sums up my opinion on this case and a great portion of the U.S. population, included the following: “this decision creates a ‘startling breadth’ and sets up a situation where ‘commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs:(Congressional Documents and Publications, 2014). Now the question of Hobby Lobby being a family owned business I believed played a significant role in the Supreme Courts ruling and the religious freedom argument. It would be different in my opinion if it were an international or global company like IBM or Google, etc. I think that the family owned for profit business could be viewed and or was viewed as a single entity or an individual and the Supreme Court felt as if they would indeed be violating the first amendment right of the owners, as if they were individuals; not that I agree with the decision but I believe that played a role in their decision. I believe that the larger publicly held company has a global responsibility and that they serve at the pleasure of “all” religious backgrounds, affiliations, and beliefs, and can not be viewed with the same lens as a family owned and operated business.
In conclusion, I don’t believe that any company, for profit, publicly held, non profit’s, have the right to break the rule of law, regardless of the religious implications and or freedoms that they have a right to. If they disagree with the rule of law, then they should either refrain from owning a company in the U.S or they should start a company where the specific law in this case, wouldn’t apply. This is profound stuff, and will be widely debated for eternity. These are just my opinions for now, but I remain open to feedback, persuasion, and evolution if necessary.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014), retrieved from https://legaldictionary.net/burwell-v-hobby-lobby-…
Churchill, S. (2015). WHOSE RELIGION MATTERS IN CORPORATE RFRA CLAIMS AFTER BURWELL V. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC., 134 S. CT. 2751 (2014)? Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, 38(1), 437-450. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…
Nadel, S. (2017). Closely held conscience: Corporate personhood in the post-hobby lobby world. Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, 50(3), 417-448. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…
Statement on supreme court decision burwell vs. hobby lobby stores, inc. (2014). (). Washington: Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc. Retrieved from ProQuest Central Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docv…
In the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the privately-owned for-profit organization Hobby Lobby, who incorporate certain religious beliefs into their operations, fought to be exempted from providing contraception to female staff members based on the belief that life begins at conception. It was noted that some forms of contraception to be covered within the contraceptive mandate may prevent the development and growth of a fertilized egg, thus ending “life at the time of conception” as believed by the owners of the company (573 U.S., 2014). The owners of this closely-held corporation argued that, by being responsible for providing such contraception, their religious beliefs and the practice of such were being violated.
This case stands out because the majority (5 to 4 vote) in the Supreme Court ruled that a corporation can be viewed as a “person”, due to the broad coverage of the word as it is written in the RFRA. This is one of the implications on business as displayed in this case, along with the fact that the ruling shows that religious freedom can be extended to corporations, to an extent and under certain circumstances. The constitutional provisions at issue were the First Amendment right to freedom of religion stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”, along with American ideology of the separation of church and state. According to the ruling, the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act went against the religious beliefs of some for-profit entities and, therefore, they could be exempt from providing those contraceptives (Gerais, 2017).
I do believe that the fact that Hobby Lobby Stores is a family-owned business made a difference in the court’s decision to rule in their favor. Hobby Lobby clearly states how their religious faith is affiliated with the organization on the company website. In addition, the company can be viewed as an extension of the family which owns it, which cannot be said for publicly-owned and traded companies. Being that Hobby Lobby Stores is owned by one family, with several of its members working in upper-managerial positions within the company, their religious philosophy is incorporated into the business and its operations. I do not believe that this same argument can work for publicly held corporations, nor do I believe that it should. With publicly held companies, there can be a vast number of investors, who own a small amount of stock in the company to those who hold very large stakes. It simply is not feasible to apply this type of ruling to such organizations, because the business does not and cannot reflect the religious beliefs of all of the owners. This, I believe, is the constitutional distinction between the two, and the reason why the court ruled that Hobby Lobby Stores can be viewed as having religious beliefs being violated.
The article by Kelsey Dallas shows how the case both hurt and helped religious freedom because it explains that the owners of privately-owned businesses do not forfeit their beliefs when they decide to open a business, and also that ruling that a corporation can have religious beliefs is a bit of a stretch from a legal standpoint. I have to say I am very torn with the points in the article. It is true that the owners are entitled to their own beliefs and to practice them freely, but to extend those beliefs and rights to an entity is reaching. At the same time, and trying to view the situation as an un-biased individual in regards to faith, I do believe that the owners should not have to be responsible for contraceptive methods that go against their core beliefs. However, with the company being privately-owned by the Greens, I do ultimately agree with the court’s decision to exempt the organization from certain contraceptive methods to protect the beliefs of the owners, although I do not agree that corporations can hold a religious belief. This ruling has the possibility of opening doors for other corporations to make claims on religious grounds to get out of certain fines and other payments.
Finally, as for the last question, I do believe that businesses should be able to invoke the 1st Amendment, under very specialized circumstances and stipulations. I read several articles concerning the Citizens United case and I feel that it is within their right to provide funds for ads to endorse oppose political candidates. The funds being given by organizations are backed by management, which is a form of their support or opposition to candidates. To forbid them to give funds would be a way of taking away their freedom to express their opinion. Again, this ruling shows that the funds of the organization is the extension of the freedom of speech of individuals within that organization. The protections within the 1st Amendment are very powerful rights and the cases falling under them should be looked at very carefully to make sure that corporations do not take advantage of them. The cases listed in this week’s prompt were (and still are) very controversial because they involve corporations, but it must be noted that the root of the claims are tethered to the rights of actual individuals who are protected by the 1st Amendment.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 573 U.S. 682 (2014). Retrieved from: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf
Dallas, K. (2019). How the Hobby Lobby ruling helped and hurt religious freedom. Retrieved from https://www.deseret.com/2019/6/27/20676591/how-the-hobby-lobby-ruling-helped-and-hurt-religious-freedom#demonstrators-embrace-as-they-react-to-hearing-the-supreme-courts-decision-on-the-hobby-lobby-case-outside-the-supreme-court-in-washington-monday-june-30-2014-the-supreme-court-says-corporations-can-hold-religious-objections-that-allow-them-to-opt-out-of-the-new-health-law-requirement-that-they-cover-contraceptives-for-women-religious-freedom-protections-continue-to-be-a-hot-topic-five-years-later.
Gerais, R. (2017). Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014). The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/burwell-v-hobby-lobby-2014.
The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. was a unique case that introduced religion as their base in their case. Just by learning about this case on its own, I’ve come to realize that there is a fine line that everyone needs to follow when dealing with any law, especially when it can interfere with an already established law. Learning how introducing a new bill or law can have a huge effect on how we live as Americans. With Burwell v. Hobby, constitutional provisions were an issue when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was introduced and was contradicting a law that was put in place back in 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Hobby Lobby is a closely held for-profit corporation chain of stores that sells arts and crafts. However, the company is tightly run by individuals who have strict religious values and beliefs. The Affordable Care Act is also known as Obama Care, wanted to introduce a healthcare plan that included the coverage of contraception for female employees. Hobby Lobby disagreed as they see that as a means of abortion and did not want any part of it and decided to fight back due to their beliefs. Hobby Lobby’s victory was bittersweet as it helped American people see that their religious beliefs can and will be defended by law, but shed light on how to exploit future laws by using religion.
Overall, the case is very interesting as it clear to see that their main concern was that this was a gateway for other companies to follow their footsteps to avoid the new mandated healthcare law. However, I don’t think this would work for a company such as IBM as they were not established in the premises of being a tightly held religious company. Furthermore, they have too many employees with different backgrounds and ethnicities to be able to accommodate everyone’s beliefs. It would be too chaotic and quite frankly; I find it impossible for a company with such magnitude to pull what Hobby Lobby did. Although I don’t completely agree with the decision to this case, I think Hobby Lobby was able to fight due to a law that was put in place in 1993, but we have taken a step back for women’s equality. It is now the year of 2019 and we have changed as a society where female rights are improving and might affect older laws. I understand the first amendment safeguards religion, but I believe women as a whole should have been taken further into consideration.
With the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case from 2014 in Utah, the owners of the corporation were having moral issues with being forced to pay for birth control. The major constitutional implications for this business was that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was not abundantly clear on whether or not privately owned corporations would be exempt from providing contraceptive under the affordable healthcare act. Religious organizations such as churches or even religiously affiliated non profit organizations were exempt from providing contraceptives under the affordable health care act. I do believe that the fact that Hobby Lobby was owned by a family who followed specific religious guidelines did make a huge difference in the court’s consideration. The views and beliefs were not there in order to save money by not providing birth control but rather due to them going against their personal beliefs. As a company is publicly traded, they give up certain rights and restrictions. So I believe an organization like IBM would not be able to use the same argument as they have a majority shareholding by institutional investors, who by their own nature exist to create a profit for their investors. So it would be very difficult to prove whether or not the decision is being made based on their investors wallets or for the religious beliefs of the majority.
I do believe that it has both hurt and helped religious freedom. With the Hobby Lobby case, it showed that business can maintain religious freedom and are privy to religious rights similar to how individuals are. I do believe that businesses should be able to invoke the 1st Amendment, and any other amendment for that matter. I believe that a business is merely an extension of a particular individual. But they must also be considered on a case by case basis.