The Weekly Five

Today, the Weekly 5 focuses on American law. We note two pieces on the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases–each focusing on different features of those cases–as well articles about copyright law, the parsonage exemption, and legislative prayer.

1. Stephen M. Bainbridge (UCLA), A Critique of the Corporate Law Professors’ Amicus Brief in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood: Professor Bainbridge criticizes the claims of a number of law professors that principles of corporate law prohibit a corporation from assuming the religious beliefs of its shareholders. Professor Bainbridge argues that the doctrine of reverse veil-piercing provides a mechanism for disregarding the legal separateness of the corporation from its shareholders.

2. James M. Oleske Jr. (Lewis and Clark), Obamacare, RFRA, and the Perils of Legislative History: Professor Oleske argues that the legislative history of RFRA “casts considerable doubt” on the claim (most prominently advanced by Professor Douglas Laycock) that there was universal congressional agreement at the time of RFRA’s passing that the statute would apply to for-profit corporations. Professor Oleske concludes that it would be better for the Court to interpret RFRA in light of its own pre-1990 jurisprudence.

3. Carolyn Homer Thomas (Quinn, Emmanuel), The Copyright Act’s Licensing Exemption for Religious Performances of Religious Works is Unconstitutional. Ms. Thomas argues that the exemption of a licensing requirement for dramatic works with a sufficiently religious content violates the Establishment Clause, relying especially (see pp.  67 and following) on the Supreme Court’s opinion in a RLUIPA case, Cutter v. Wilkinson.

4. Edward A. Zelinsky (Cardozo), The First Amendment and the Parsonage Allowance: Professor Zelinksy discusses the justifications for parsonage exemption, which permits clergy to exclude their housing expenses from taxable income, in the context of criticizing a recent district court opinion striking down the parsonage exemption as a violation of the Establishment Clause.

5. Alan E. Brownstein (UC Davis), Town of Greece v. Galloway: Constitutional Challenges to State Sponsored Prayers at Local Government Meetings: In this lecture, Professor Brownstein considers the Galloway case as well as the constitutionality of legislative prayer generally. Professor Brownstein also offers a set of guidelines that, if followed by a municipality, would render legislative prayer constitutional.

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