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Fundamental Rights

The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Steven D. Smith, John Inazu March 12, 2015

Familiar accounts of religious freedom in the United States often tell a story of visionary founders who broke from the centuries-old patterns of Christendom to establish a political arrangement committed to secular and religiously neutral government. These novel commitments were supposedly embodied in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. But this story is largely a fairytale, University of San Diego School of Law Prof. Steven D. Smith says in this incisive examination of a much-mythologized subject. He makes the case that the American achievement was not a rejection of Christian commitments but a retrieval of classic Christian ideals of freedom of the church and freedom of conscience.

In The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom, Prof. Smith maintains that the distinctive American contribution to religious freedom was not in the First Amendment, which was intended merely to preserve the political status quo in matters of religion. What was important was the commitment to open contestation between secularist and providentialist understandings of the nation which evolved over the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, far from vindicating constitutional principles, as conventional wisdom suggests, the Supreme Court imposed secular neutrality, which effectively repudiated this commitment to open contestation. Rather than upholding what was distinctively American and constitutional, these decisions subverted it. The negative consequences are visible today in the incoherence of religion clause jurisprudence and the intense culture wars in American politics. Prof. Smith was joined by Prof. John Inazu of Washington University (Saint Louis) Law School to discuss the premises, analysis, and conclusions of Prof. Smith’s book.

  • Prof. Steven D. Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law
  • John Inazu, Washington University School of Law

The Meriam Ibrahim Case and International Religious Liberty - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Thomas F. Farr, Tina Ramírez March 03, 2015

Miriam Ibrahim is a Sudanese woman who was arrested in Sudan and charged with adultery in August 2013 on the grounds that her marriage to a Christian man from South Sudan was void under Sudan's version of Islamic law, which says Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims. The court added the charge of apostasy in February 2014, and she was sentenced to hang after refusing to renounce Christianity. Though her father was Muslim, he left her Ethiopian Orthodox mother to raise her from early childhood, and she was raised a Christian. Though she eventually was released in July 2014 and is now living in the United States, her arrest raises the question of whether and how the United States should respond to instances of the denial of religious freedom in other countries.

  • Prof. Thomas F. Farr, Senior Fellow and Director, Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University
  • Tina Ramírez, Founder and Executive Director, Hardwired, Inc.

The Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS Mandate - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Mark L. Rienzi December 19, 2014

On December 8, 2014, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in three cases challenging the HHS contraceptive mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The Little Sisters case has already been to the Supreme Court once when Justice Sotomayor gave the nuns an emergency injunction on December 31, 2013, and the full court gave them an injunction in January 2014. The Little Sisters returned to court on December 8 to challenge whether the government can force them to sign forms that would let the government and third parties use their plan to provide contraceptives.

Mark Rienzi is Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Catholic University of America. He argued on behalf of the Little Sisters and several other parties before the 10th Circuit, and he gave a report on the argument and the status of the challenges to the contraceptive mandate.

  • Prof. Mark L. Rienzi, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America, Senior Counsel, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

Oral Arguments in the Contraceptive Mandate Case: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Robert A. Destro, Adèle Keim March 26, 2014

Hobby Lobby

On March 25, 2014, the contraceptive mandate case was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby Stores’ owners have no moral or other objection to the use of 16 of 20 contraceptives required by the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but cite their deeply held religious beliefs in objecting to providing or paying for four others they see as possibly life-threatening. How will the Supreme Court rule? Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), allow Hobby Lobby a way around the ACA ‘s contraceptive mandate? Our experts reviewed the oral arguments and took questions from the audience in this Courthouse Steps Teleforum.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Robert A. Destro, Professor of Law, and Director, Interdisciplinary Program in Law & Religion, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
  • Adele Keim, Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

[Listen now!]