Check your religious scruples at the company gate?

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2014

The Cato Institute has submitted an amicus brief in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases, which test the extent to which the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment restrain the federal government from requiring employers to participate in employee benefit arrangements that violate the conscience of the individuals who own and run the company. More on the other amicus briefs from Rick Garnett at PrawfsBlawg and commenters. Prof. Bainbridge takes issue with a brief signed by a group of law professors on whether a corporate enterprise can be treated as an alter ego for its owners for purposes of imputing to it their rights (“reverse veil piercing”), and has some further thoughts on the legal principle — sometimes ideologically contested, but seldom in a consistent way — of corporate personhood. Related earlier here.

{ 7 comments }

1 Mannie 01.31.14 at 1:59 pm

Interesting. Hobby Lobby scruples at providing contraception and abortion coverage, but does not scruple at buying and selling Chinese goods, thereby supporting their program of forced abortion.

2 gitarcarver 01.31.14 at 9:45 pm

Mannie,

I just want to make sure that I understand your position here. Hobby Lobby is somehow at fault for making a deal with individual companies in a country that has policies it may disagree with is somehow equivalent to the US government coming in and requiring them to do something against their religious and moral beliefs.

You’re right. That is an “interesting” take on the situation.

3 Mannie 02.01.14 at 11:22 am

First of all, I am opposed to Zerobamacare in all its aspects, and am kind of rooting for Hobby Lobby.

But how committed are they to anti-abortion policies, if they financially support abortionists? Yeah, I’ll fight it, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me too much.

4 gitarcarver 02.01.14 at 4:19 pm

Mannie,

With all due respect, using your logic you would not want Hobby Lobby to do business with a Canadian company as their taxes supports a health care system with abortion on demand.

At best one can make a case that dealing with a company in China remotely and indirectly through multiple layers and connections supports abortion. That is quite different from Hobby Lobby or anyone being told they must directly provide support and funds for abortion.

5 Mannie 02.02.14 at 10:24 am

The Canadian connection is more tenuous than the Chinese one. The Chinese government, the owner of most Chinese industry, is directly implementing what is probably the most aggressive anti-child programs on the planet.

But yes, you are right, it is a connection at a remove, and you have to do business with someone.

6 Cecil 02.03.14 at 11:18 am

So they buy American… Oh wait, those companies are forced to support abortion/birth control too… So they can’t buy Chinese, Canadian or American. At some point you have to decide you are responsible for your own actions and others are responsible for theirs, that doesn’t mean you enable them.

7 DensityDuck 02.03.14 at 12:03 pm

Also they exist in America where abortion is not illegal. By your reasoning they should fire all their employees and burn all their stores to the ground.

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