|By Jim Spencer, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
More than 200,000 of the state's companies confront that question after last week's
Legal scholars say the answer is still unclear. The decision lacked precise guidelines as to which businesses it covers, for example, or what qualifies as a religious belief.
The court's majority opinion "could lead to a lot of litigation and turmoil," said
Lawyers involved in the battle over government dictates, women's rights and religious liberty interpret the majority opinion differently.
"How many people are we talking about who want to work out their faith through their business?" he said.
Too many, countered
"One might have wished for a little more guidance," said
The biggest uncertainty is that the court said its decision applies only to "closely held" businesses. But in
For general legal purposes, however, a closely held business is defined not by how many people it employs but by the fact that it has a limited number of shareholders, offers no public market for its stock and its owners run day-to-day operations.
"Many closely held businesses are family businesses," said Kleinberger, who teaches a course on the subject and has written a law-review article on it. "But many are not. Nothing in this decision distinguishes."
The last state census of business ownership was 35 years ago. At that time, 98 percent of all the state's businesses were considered closely held, said
It is a flexible standard. The