The Affordable Care Act has created a conflict between health insurance and religious freedom. But is it really applicable to businesses? Can businesses have religious freedom? In Eden Foods, Inc. v. Sebelius, Michael Potter, the owner of Eden Foods, Inc., wanted to be both distinct from his company and also one and the same with it. The court said Potter could not have it both ways.

Generally, the reason a sole owner would choose to incorporate is to benefit from the protections of creating a distinct legal entity. A corporation has different legal rights, obligations, powers and privileges from the individual who created it. Once incorporated, the owner and the corporation are two different entities in the eyes of the law.
The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate imposed duties and potential penalties on Eden Foods as an employer; not on Potter as an individual. Potter argued that the act’s mandate was contrary to his personal religious beliefs, and as the sole owner of Eden Foods, he should not be forced into making the company comply.
The court said that this argument was invalid. When Potter incorporated his company, he gave up his right to bring an individual action on behalf of a perceived injury to the corporation in exchange for the liability and financial protections of the corporate form. Because Eden Foods is a for-profit, secular corporation, the court said the company could not exercise religion. In the end, Potter could not challenge the act’s mandate and neither could Eden Foods.
The corporate form has many advantages, but in this case, it had an unusual disadvantage for Potter.