2014: Constitution Day

American Politics and Policy

Constitution Day
Hobby Lobby Ruling:  Winning Religious Liberty or Extending Corporate Reach?

September 17, 2014 at 4 p.m.
Watkins Room, Trone Student Center

Constitution Day was September 17, and this year the Riley Institute presented  a scholarly look at the recent ruling by the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This case pits the first amendment right of religious freedom, applying it to a closely held corporation, against the rights of an individual who may be employed by the corporation.

The program began with a sociological perspective on “Why Hobby Lobby Matters to Us?” by Professor Kristy Maher.

Holly Hollman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, offered her analysis of the ruling from the perspective of those who advocate for separation of church and state. Finally, Professors Don Aiesi and Teresa Cosby offered their views, and we took questions from the audience.


Holly Hollman, J.D., is the general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), providing legal analysis on church-state issues that arise before Congress, the courts and administrative agencies. The BJC led an unlikely coalition of supporters of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, cited by the Supreme Court in the ruling.

Teresa Cosby, J.D., and Don Aiesi, Ph.D., are both constitutional law professors who will present the legal arguments and constitutional basis for the Supreme Court’s ruling. Dr. Aiesi is currently teaching a course on civil rights and the U.S. Constitution, and Teresa Cosby teaches courses on constitutional law and public policy and is former executive director of the S. C. Centers for Equal Justice and former S.C. assistant attorney general.

Kristy Maher, Ph.D., is professor of sociology, and she specializes in health inequalities and the sociology of gender.  She will provide a sociological perspective on the impact of the ruling.