The WSJ reports that:
On Friday, the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that “for-profit, secular corporations cannot engage in religious exercise,” departing from a decision in June by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which held that in some circumstances for-profit companies do enjoy religious rights. ...
“Even if we were to disregard the lack of historical recognition of the right, we simply cannot understand how a for-profit, secular corporation—apart from its owners—can exercise religion,” Judge Cowen wrote in the 2-1 decision.
Notice the line about "apart from its owners," which ought to implicate my suggestion that reverse veil piercing can be used to vindicate the rights of those owners.
Reverse veil piercing (RVP) is a corporate law doctrine pursuant to which a court disregards the corporation’s separate legal personality, allowing the shareholder to claim benefits otherwise available only to individuals. The thesis of this article is that RVP provides the correct analytical framework for vindicating certain constitutional rights.
Assume that sole proprietors with religious objections to abortion or contraception are protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) from being obliged to comply with the government mandate that employers provide employees with health care plans that cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Further assume that incorporated employers are not so protected. This article analyzes whether the shareholders of such employers can invoke RVP so as to vindicate their rights.
At least one court has recognized the potential for using RVP in the mandate cases, opining that these cases “pose difficult questions of first impression, including whether it is “possible to ‘pierce the veil’ and disregard the corporate form in this context.” The court further opined that that question, among others, merited “more deliberate investigation.” This article undertakes precisely that investigation.
Invoking RVP in the mandate cases would not be outcome determinative. Instead, it would simply provide a coherent doctrinal framework for determining whether the corporation is so intertwined with the religious beliefs of its shareholders that the corporation should be allowed standing to bring the case. Whatever demerits RVP may have, it provides a better solution than the courts’ current practice of deciding the issue by mere fiat.