Historical Context for the Hobby Lobby Decision

30 06 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.  It has upheld the view that for-profit corporations can have religious principles and that the government must respect the freedom of conscience of corporations.  You can read the ruling and a bunch of related documents here.

It is worthwhile putting this decision into some historical context. Luckily for us, the American History Guys at Backstory Radio have done that. With impeccable timing, last week’s episode dealt with the history of the corporation in American life.  Here is the blurb describing the show.

The Supreme Court will soon rule on whether Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores, can be exempted from parts of the Affordable Care Act on account of thecorporation’s religious beliefs. Raising questions about “corporate personhood,” and coming just a few years after the Court’s still-controversial Citizens United ruling, the case has further fueled the debate over corporate power today. But how did corporations become such powerful institutions in American life? And how did Americans in the past view their role and influence?

In this episode, we explore the changing status of the corporation throughout American history. From the proliferation of corporations in the post-Revolutionary era to the rise of the Gilded Age giants, we’ll consider how corporations have been viewed in the courts and by the population-at-large.

You can listen to the entire podcast here.




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