Corporations, the Right to Religion and Gender Discrimination

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Corporations have long been considered "persons" under American law, to protect their shareholders from liability when things go wrong. The US Supreme court has ruled they can spend money on politics because "personhood" includes the right to free speech. Do corporations also have the right to religion? That was one of the questions before the court today in the case of a chain of craft stores. Hobby Lobby's owners want to deny female employees coverage for some kinds of contraception — as required by the Affordable Care Act -- claiming religious objections. (Conestoga Wood Specialties, a corporation owned by Mennonites is also a party.) Do corporations have religious rights?  Could other companies refuse coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations or psychiatric care on religious grounds?  Is Hobby Lobby asking to discriminate against female employees? We hear today's arguments and what the justices wanted to know.




Warren Olney