Washington and Lee law professor Lyman Johnson was recently invited to contribute to the Business Law Prof Blog. Professor Johnson’s post, Hobby Lobby – A Landmark Corporate Law Decision, discusses the Supreme Court’s decision in the high profile Hobby Lobby case. It appeared on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
The Court held that a closely-held business corporation was a “person” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), that such a for-profit corporation could indeed “exercise religion” under that Act, and that as applied to closely-held corporations the contraceptive mandate promulgated under the Affordable Care Act violated RFRA. Two days after the controversial decision, the sky has not fallen, although dire forecasts to that effect still abound. My post today makes a simple but basic point: quite apart from the decision’s implications for religious liberty in the corporate realm – no small thing, to be sure – and notwithstanding the still unfolding legal and political fallout,Hobby Lobby immediately became a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court spoke in unprecedented fashion to an issue going to the very foundation of corporate law, the question of corporate purpose.