The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Aglae Eufracio


While freedom of religion is a right guaranteed to the American people, what that freedom entails, is often misunderstood. Religious freedom affords every American the right to practice any faith without fear of being persecuted or ostracized by the government. This fundamental right is frequently used to oppress certain groups of Americans because their lifestyle is not in accordance with traditional Christian values. This was highlighted in the recent case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The controversy stemmed from the corporation’s use of religion as a method to deny women access to full healthcare coverage, citing religious opposition to abortion as the key reason. The Supreme Court’s decision of Hobby Lobby effectively grants corporations religious freedom deserving of constitutional protection from government-imposed legislation. For-profit corporations can use their exempt status to opt out of the contraceptive requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The biggest concern involving the Supreme Court’s decision is the likelihood of a deluge of litigation. Each issue arising from the Hobby Lobby decision will have to be evaluated separately, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) standard will have to be applied to each set of facts. This will lead to some religious corporations prevailing, as opposed to others. This in turn will give the impression of favoring one religion over another, which is something the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude. While the Hobby Lobby decision only touches on the question of contraceptives, the court will not be able to limit their discussion to this topic alone. The Hobby Lobby case opened the door for any for-profit corporation with a sincerely held faith to monitor and control the lives of its employees. This includes healthcare coverage and benefits for LGBT persons and their partners.

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The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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St. Mary's University School of Law