The basis for this discussion is the U.S. Supreme Court case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
This case is about a business’ leadership making real business decisions about employer-provided employee health care benefits. This decision violated a government mandate that private for-profit businesses provide certain types of birth control benefits. The company, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., took a stand against the government’s position, based on the business ownership’s religious beliefs, raising a Constitutional question under the First Amendment.
In addition to the Hobby Lobby case itself, please consider, in particular, the Horwitz article listed in this week’s eReserve Required Readings, as well as other research on the subject, to inform your own thoughts on the following and discuss in a narrative post.
Please do not simply list “questions and answers.” Address the questions within an essay format.
Which part of the 1st Amendment was at issue in this case?
Discuss how the government violated Hobby Lobby’s 1st Amendment right, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hobby Lobby Stores. Inc. is a family owned business, described as “closely held.” What does this mean, i.e., what is a closely held corporation? How did the fact Hobby Lobby is closely held make a difference in the court’s consideration of Hobby Lobby’s 1st Amendment religious freedom argument? Would the same argument work for a large publicly held corporation like IBM? Should it? Why or why not?
Should a business operating as a nonreligious commercial entity be able to invoke this 1st Amendment protection at all on the basis of the business owner(s)’ personal beliefs as human beings? Why or why not? If the business is a separate person, as the Court has held in finding that the business has an independent Constitutional right, how can this “corporate person,” as an entity, manifest an independent religious belief? Isn’t it separate from its owners? (For this question you might want to also take a look at the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Citizens United case.)
Share any additional thoughts you have.
Please clearly and thoroughly discuss these points in a well organized post. Your text and other required readings and research should form a foundation for your discussion. At a minimum your thoughts should be informed by the court’s opinion in Hobby Lobby, the Horwitz article, and your textbook readings. You may have other ideas — research further to support them. We invite and expect respectful debate in the discussions.
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