Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


In 2014, the Supreme Court made a controversial decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruling that for-profit businesses were entitled to religious protections under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and could seek and receive a religious accommodation from the contraceptive mandate of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision split legal scholars who have since debated whether corporations may even qualify as persons under RFRA and what motivated Hobby Lobby and its litigating peers. Why did 48 other businesses litigate alongside Hobby Lobby for a religious accommodation? Should we believe the sincerity of their beliefs or consider different motivations? This paper focuses on an explanation offered by Gregory Lipper who says that contraceptive mandate litigators were driven by politics. Using SPSS software, this paper compares the total 49 litigating businesses to a control group made up of composites from three businesses in each community of the litigating group in a crosstab. It compares the groups’ donations to Political Action Committees and controls for outward displays of religion. It finds that litigating businesses as a whole were more politically active and affiliated with the Republican party than its control counterpart with 46.9% of litigating businesses donating to Republican-affiliated PACs compared to just 26.5% of control businesses doing the same. Yet, 25 of the 49 litigating businesses were not politically affiliated. The study also finds that while the litigating group was more religious than the control group, 69.4% of litigating businesses were still not outwardly religious. These results, then, are complicated and limited, but they at least question the widely-held belief that the litigating businesses were purely motivated by sincere religious beliefs.