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The First Amendment and the Business Corporation$
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Ronald J. Colombo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199335671

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199335671.001.0001

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The First Amendment

The First Amendment

Freedom of Religion

Chapter:
(p.139) Chapter 7 The First Amendment
Source:
The First Amendment and the Business Corporation
Author(s):

Ronald J. Colombo

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199335671.003.0008

The First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty was intentionally framed as “free exercise.” This phrase was specifically chosen over competing phrases (such as “toleration”) to underscore the breadth of the right in question. Although there has been some debate over the strength and breadth of religious liberty, it unquestionably protects associational activity. Further, these protections have been routinely extended to (1) for-profit, commercial undertakings and (2) nonprofit corporate undertakings. By simply connecting these two lines of precedent, the free exercise rights of business corporations can readily be recognized. With regard to the modern corporation, this connection may be refused on the basis that such entities are incapable of exercising religion. This connection may not be refused, however, with respect to the postmodern corporation, as such entities can serve as religiously expressive associations, entitling them to the religious liberty protections of the First Amendment.

Keywords:   free exercise, religiously expressive association, religious liberty, First Amendment, postmodern corporation

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