July 3, 2013 by Tamara Piety
Well, it is official, as of last Thursday – at least according to the 10th Circuit – for-profit corporations have religious freedom to exercise, at least per dicta in the opinion. You can read the opinion here. Some coverage of the decision can be found here, here and here. The total of all the opinions is 165 pages long, so it is taking some time to wade through but this looks like a big decision. For now it is just going back to the district court, but I think we can expect that, whatever happens, this case will end up in the appellate court again and perhaps, ultimately, the Supreme Court.
For a discussion critical of extending free exercise rights to corporations see this post. from Jonathan Adler on the Volokh Conspiracy. For corporate law professor Steven Bainbridge’s take on the case see this post. Despite his general support of the position outlined in the 10th Circuit opinion, Bainbridge writes, “the majority’s approach does strike me as a logical extension of Citizens United. But then again, having said that, I still think the Supreme Court’s corporate personhood jurisprudence is entirely lacking in anything remotely resembling a coherent theory.”
I will be posting more about this case as I make my way through all of the opinions.