Book Title
Business Law with UCC Applications 14th Edition

978-0077733735 Chapter 12 Part 2 Case Study 2

April 10, 2019
Part 2 Case Study 2
Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v.
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al. (AKA The Hobby Lobby Case)
1. The chief arguments put forth to support the notion that for profit corporations can be covered by the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act focus on the fact that many corporations are involved in charitable,
civic, and social causes in ways that empower the charitable, civic and social institutions that benefit
from the contributions of those corporations. In making this point Alito argues that, even profit making
corporations contribute to the religious life of the community. Alito is correct in this argument and his
opinion goes a long way toward supporting this notion. Moreover, the corporation and capitalism owe
their very existence to the Church. The history of capitalism reveals that it was the direct intervention
of the Church in the affairs of European businesses that allowed capitalism and ultimately the
2. Note: The suggested answer to the Ethical Question in Chapter 7 indicated that the interaction of
the political CAS with the legal CAS may, in fact, need some sort of moral referee and that the Church
might play the role of that moral referee. In this question, the focus is just a bit different. First, it is
more specific since it asks about the redistribution of wealth. Second, the question asks for a
re-evaluation of the student’s earlier answer. The first question must be evaluated in light of Alito’s
opinion. Alito defends the religious nature of the for-profit corporations by noting that these
3. Much of the law merchant that evolved in the context of the guilds, under the vigilant eye of the
Church, was based upon moral values. Moreover, none of this was a secret from the merchants, who
4. Alito notes that, “the dissent suggests that nonprofit corporations are special because furthering
their religious “autonomy . . . often furthers individual religious freedom as well.” For this reason
(among others) the dissent would grant RFRA protection to nonprofits but not to profit making
corporations. In Chapter 7, we learned that one of the essential differences between contract law and
5. It would be tough for any instructor to guess with certainty the wide variety of responses that
6. In many ways the Hobby Lobby Case is an example of proactive integration. The proactive
integration aspect of the law is seen in the actions by Congress in enacting the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act in which Congress under took the job of re-setting the strict scrutiny test of the Free
Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, after the Supreme Court had weakened that test by sending it
7. Whether there should be a prohibition against unethical contracts is problemmatic. It is problematic
for an instructor to predict with confidence the types of answers that students will provide for this
9. The traditonal rule says that a corporation’s letterhead can act as the official signature of the
corporation. Corporate contracts made electronically offer special problems related to the making of
10. A complex adaptive system (CAS) is a network of interacting conditions which reinforce one
another, while at the same time adjusting to change from agents outside and inside the system. Justice
Alito’s opinion in the Hobby Lobby Case clearly reinforce the idea that the law works like a complex
adaptive system. All CASs include certain elements each of which is seen here. First, every CAS
operates as a result of the interaction of a variety of agents. In this case, we see the interaction of the
Court which set up the Strict Scrutiny Test as an extension of the Free Exercise Clause of the First
Amendment and then later overturned it; in the action of Congress in restoring that test in a legislative
package called the RFRA; in the action of the High Court in declaring some key parts of the RFRA
uncosntitutional; in the action of Congress in passing new legislation to counter act the High Court’s
ruling; in the actions of the state legislatures that also set up mini-RFRAs. Second, in a CAS there is
no central controlling agent, no single all powerful “boss” as it were. Instead, control is dispersed
END of Part TWO End Case