(For an introduction to this series of posts, see here.)
Much of the recent debate about Hobby Lobby and similar cases has focused on whether RFRA allows exemptions from burdens imposed on corporations. As before, let me approach this question by considering some hypotheticals that don’t invoke the hot political passions generated by the employer mandate, or by questions related to abortion. In all of them, assume that we are in a jurisdiction in which the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act or one of its state analogs applies.
Let us focus on the three examples mentioned in the preceding post, but tied to closely held corporations. Imagine that a newly enacted law requires all markets to sell state lottery tickets. and say that a particular market is owned by a corporation that is wholly owned by members of a United Methodist family, who believe it’s against their religion for any business that they own, directly or indirectly, to sell lottery tickets. Or imagine the same as to a law requiring all markets to sell beer and wine, and owners of a Methodist or a Muslim family corporation object to this because they think selling wine is sinful. Or say that a law requires all gas stations to operate seven days a week, and say that a particular gas station is owned by a corporation owned by members of a Jewish or Seventh-Day Adventist family, who believe that it is wrong for any business that they own to operate on the Sabbath.
All the store-owning corporations, together with the individual owners of those corporations, sue, seeking an exemption from the lottery ticket mandate, alcohol mandate, or the seven-day-a-week mandate. Should all these claims be rejected, on the theory that (1) corporations lack RFRA rights, and (2) the owners of the [...]