The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 18 No. 3 (Fall 2016)

Contesting Religious Liberty

The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty

edited by Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zoë Robinson

New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2016.

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Fall 2016

(Volume 18 | Issue 3)

The relatively obscure field of law and religion has gone mainstream in recent years. With high-profile cases hitting center stage at the Supreme Court, little-known legal doctrines and theories have migrated from the pages of law reviews to the columns of the nation’s leading newspapers. Many of the hot-button issues involve claims by religious institutions. The issue that has drawn the most attention is whether a for-profit corporation—as distinct from an individual, a church, or a religious nonprofit—can avail itself of statutory protections of religious liberty. But constitutional and statutory claims by religious institutions raise a number of other important theoretical and doctrinal issues. The Rise of Corporate Religious Liberty offers a timely set of reflections on the legal and cultural challenges and claims posed by religious institutions.

Edited by law professors Micah Schwartzman, Chad Flanders, and Zoë Robinson, the book centers on two recent Supreme Court decisions: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (the 2014 decision which upheld the claims of closely held corporations under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the 2012 decision which recognized a “ministerial exception” protecting the hiring and firing of “ministers” by religious organizations under the First Amendment’s free exercise and establishment clauses). The book uses those two cases as a jumping off point to explore a wide range of topics, including constitutional doctrine, legal history, corporate law theory, the ontology of groups, and more than a few normative arguments. The impressive array of contributors includes some of the most sophisticated voices in these debates. But the breadth of this volume can also be a limitation, with some of its twenty-five contributors talking past one another, and others pursuing issues like legislative prayer that have little to do with the thesis of the book.

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John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion, Washington University in St. Louis, and a senior fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia. The author thanks Dan Aldrich, Marc DeGirolami, and Chris Lund for comments on an earlier draft.

Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 18.3 (Fall 2016). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.

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Published three times a year by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, The Hedgehog Review offers critical reflections on contemporary culture—how we shape it, and how it shapes us.

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