First Amendment

Locus, Policy, and Free Will

By: Scott M. Hamberger

Before responding to the questions concerning business and religious freedom, I find it useful to make some observations about the behavior in the two cases cited: the resignation of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO, and Abercrombie and Fitch’s (A&F) firing of Samantha Elauf for wearing a hijab. We must consider: i) whether the behavior occurred within the workplace and was connected to job responsibilities; ii) whether the behavior was known to conflict with workplace policy; and iii) whether the subject individual entered (or sought to enter) willingly into an employment relationship conditioned by limitations.

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Religious Freedom and Business: A Complicated Relationship

By: Samuel Gregg

Though strong correlations have been made between political and civil liberties and religious freedom, it’s unusual for people to make strong connections between religious liberty and the freedom of individuals and businesses to operate in the economy. More recently, however, increased attention has been given to the ways in which businesses can be impacted by apparent infringements of religious liberty. The recent Hobby Lobby case is one instance in which the Supreme Court of the United States maintained that the religious freedom of a business had been infringed by various regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act.

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The Religious Roots of the Constitution

By: Leah Farish

The religious roots of the Constitution and of the First Amendment should be recognized for two reasons—to appreciate their contribution, and to understand the new church-state paradigm they launched.

The perspective the Founders shared was overwhelmingly based on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Two-thirds of the framers came from Calvinist backgrounds; a majority were Presbyterians. The Westminster Catechism for children saturated public education (it has been estimated that there were four million colonists in 1776 and five million copies of the catechism) and signing onto Reformation-based statements of faith was required for college study. 

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Three Problems with the Hobby Lobby Exemption

By: Frederick Mark Gedicks

By now it might seem that there can’t possibly be anything new to say about Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, the so-called "contraception mandate" case under the Affordable Care Act now pending before the Supreme Court. But there is. Oral argument exposed three serious difficulties in Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the mandate which the Court will have to address if it decides the case in Hobby Lobby’s favor.

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Kennedy, the Perennial Swing Vote, and the Likelihood of a Narrow Ruling

By: Thomas C. Berg

The cases now before the Supreme Court involving for-profit corporations’ challenges to the Obama administration’s contraceptive-coverage mandate have provoked intense debates about the proper scope of religious freedom—and intense speculation about how the Court will rule. When the decision comes in late June, I expect that the justices, closely divided, will resolve the cases on relatively narrow grounds: for-profit corporations can raise religious freedom claims, and they may prevail in this case, but this will not validate wide-ranging challenges to commercial regulation. Such an approach makes sense.

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