Corporations Are People, My Friend, But Can They Have Religious Beliefs Too?
Mitt Romney caught a lot of flak for saying "corporations are people, my friend" when responding to a heckler on the campaign trail last year. Many people -- mostly liberals -- were incensed, noting that this showed Romney's solicitude for big business over the "little guy."
Dang Apricot Does Hobby Lobby Have Religious Beliefs?
Set aside the fact that this suspicion is probably true; people misunderstood what Romney was trying to say. This is because the law does recognize corporate personhoood -- they can sue and be sued (you can't sue you neighbor's dog, in contrast), and they do have some Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches of their property. So Romney was right, in his own ham-handed way.
Similarly, when the Supreme Court decided Citizens United (the campaign finance decision), liberals tended to attack the decision for the wrong reason: the issue, from an effects standpoint, was not that corporations have some free speech rights, it was that corruption/bribery was the only allowable basis to limit corporate speech (and unions' speech, as well). It's unexceptionable that the Constitution has something to say about the free speech rights of corporations -- the issue is how far we let those rights go.
And now the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is going to decide whether corporations can avoid the Obamacare provision requiring them to provide birth-control (and related services) to female employees when it violates the individual owners' religious beliefs.
Hobby Lobby, while a corporation, is family owned. And it is owned by Christians:
In Hobby Lobby's official statement of purpose, the Greens [the family who own Hobby Lobby] commit to "[h]onoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles."
The other cases -- they're "consolidated," in the jargon -- involve a small wood cabinet making company owned by Mennonites and the third involves another family owned corporation in Michigan whose owners are devout Roman Catholics.