Podcast: McConnell, Gans on religious rights, the First Amendment and Obamacare

Do corporations have the same religious rights as individuals under the First Amendment when it comes to the Affordable Care Act? Michael McConnell and David H. Gans discuss this far-reaching question with the National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen in this special audio podcast.

512px-Obama_signs_health_care-20100323In a private conference on Tuesday, November 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider four potential challenges to parts of the ACA, or Obamacare. Experts believe at least one case will be accepted by the Court, to be argued and decided in its current term.

A specific case that may have the best chance of getting its day in court is Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.  There are three other cases under consideration that could also be accepted or combined with the Hobby Lobby case:  Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius; Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius; and Liberty University v. Lew.

In the Hobby Lobby case, the national hobby and crafts chain store has petitioned the Court to take up its challenge to the Obamacare birth control mandate that applies to for-profit companies. (The Obama administration also has asked the Court to take up the Hobby Lobby case.)

The other cases involve religious-based challenges to Obamacare’s employer and individual mandates, and pose questions about whether the ACA forces companies and employees to violate their religious beliefs and give up their First Amendment rights when it comes to insurance requirements.

Professor Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is a leading authority on freedom of speech and religion, the relation of individual rights to government structure, originalism, and various other aspects of constitutional history and constitutional law.

David H. Gans is the Director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center. He joined the CAC after serving as Program Director of Cardozo Law School’s Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy. He is the co-author of an amicus brief filed in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. case.

Their discussion covers topics such as the Founding Fathers’ intentions about corporate rights, religion, and the First Amendment; the ability of corporations to exercise certain types of religious rights; and rights of corporations to refuse to pay for health insurance programs they find morally objectionable.

You can listen to the full audio of this podcast in the player below.