William and Mary Law School

Video: Professors Meese and Oman on Hobby Lobby and RFRA Persons

In May, Harvard Law Review Forum published an article by William & Mary Law Professors Alan Meese and Nathan B. Oman titled “Hobby Lobby, Corporate Law, and the Theory of the Firm: Why For-Profit Corporations Are RFRA Persons.” Read the article.

In this video, the professors discuss why Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., filed its lawsuit; what RFRA is, the Administration’s argument concerning it, and the authors’ counter-argument.  They also explore the legal precedent for treating for-profit corporations as constitutional “persons” and the reality that some faiths do not observe a divide between the marketplace and religious principles. The professors predict that if the Court agrees that companies like Hobby Lobby are RFRA “persons,” it will not incite widespread corporate governance disputes or open the door exemptions for publically held firms from federal law. 

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On the Hobby Lobby Decision:

"The Court held that closely held, for-profit corporations can pursue religious objectives and are thus RFRA persons capable of exercising religion. The Court recognized that such corporate religious exercise enhances the religious freedom of individuals, who employ for-profit corporations and other artificial entities, including non-profits, to achieve their objectives in the real world. The Court saw no reason in law or logic to distinguish for-profit corporations from non-profit corporations or other for-profit enterprises such as partnerships or sole proprietorships." -- Alan J. Meese

Read a related post by Professor Meese:

Hobby Lobby, Corporate Law, and RFRA” (The Conglomerate, May 23)

Read what commentators had to say about the Harvard Law Review Forum article:

Truth on the Market (June 2)
National Review Online (May 27)
SCOTUSblog (May 23)
The Originalism Blog (May 23)
Acton Institute (May 22)
ProfessorBainbridege.com (May 22)
First Things (May 21)
Center for Law and Religion Forum, St. John's University School of Law (May 20)
The Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post, May 20)

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Law School Communications Office Contacts: Jaime Welch-Donahue, jpwelc@wm.edu, (757) 221-1840; David F. Morrill, dfmor2@wm.edu, (757) 221-2075

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation.  Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.