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3rd Circuit Rejects Corporation's Arguments Against Contraception Mandate E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Saturday, 09 February 2013

A 3rd Circuit decision released Friday declined to halt the Affordable Care Act for Conestoga, a for-profit secular corporation. Conestoga, like many other plaintiffs challenging the law's contraception coverage mandate, argues the requirement burdens its exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. By a 2-1 vote, the Appeals Court rejected that view, for a pair of reasons.

First, the Court said, any burden on the exercise of religion is too attenuated to qualify for RFRA protection, acknowledging, though that "the question presents a close call. In addition, the court said, a for-profit, secular corporation is not a "person" under RFRA and, thus, cannot exercise religion.

Both issues are shaping up to be sharply divided ones, the Supreme Court could choose to weigh in on. 

The contrary view to the 3rd Circuit's conclusion is expressed by Kevin Walsh at his blog, Walshlaw:

[A]rguing that If a for-profit corporation can discriminate on the basis of religion, why can’t a for-profit corporation perform some other act on the basis of religion? When Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., for example, decides to honor the Sabbath by staying closed on Sundays (and thereby forgoing profits the corporation would otherwise earn), that is a corporate act on the basis of religion–a corporate “exercise of religion.” And just as a corporate refusal, for religious reasons, to operate on a particular day is a corporate “exercise of religion” under federal law, so too is a corporate refusal, for religious reasons, to include particular drugs and devices in the group health plan offered by the corporation to its employees.


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