- Professor David Forte, Cleveland State Law
With the U.S. Supreme Court cert grant in the Little Sisters of the Poor case, religious liberties is once again in the legal and media spotlight. What is the recent record of the government in protecting religious liberty? Our panel will discuss everything from the contraceptive mandate and its exemptions to ministerial hiring, RLUPA, the faith-based initiative, the Planned Parenthood controversy, and everything in between.
Religious Liberties: Examination of the Obama Administration’s Protection of Religious Liberty
3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
The Mayflower Hotel
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) ballot initiative, which extends to housing & employment, has been described as an expansive LGBT anti-discrimination measure. The Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the new Pastor Protection Act are intended to provide rights of conscience protection and some assurance of employment accommodation for religious objectors, in light of initiatives like HERO and the anti-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio. After the Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision, more and more states will face the conundrum encountered by states like Indiana, Kentucky, and now Texas, where the recently affirmed LGBT constitutional privacy interest is in tension with state and federal RFRA laws and other constitutional religious objector protections. Will states that desire to carve out religious conviction protections be eclipsed by the momentum of locally based anti-discrimination measures? Do federal laws provide sufficient public office and private party religious expression protection?
On June 26, 2015, by a 5 to 4 margin, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court held that the 14th amendment requires states to license marriages between two people of the same sex. The decision resulted in considerable controversy. What, now, are the legal objections of state officials? Will we continue to see stories like that of Kim Davis, the recently-arrested Kentucky clerk? Our experts Professor Eastman, Professor Franck, and Mr. Whelan weighed in.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges. This highly anticipated case concerned two questions. The first is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The second question is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were lawfully married in a different state.
In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court held that States are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On the second question, the Supreme Court held that States are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples lawfully married out-of-state.
Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Scalia joined. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have John Eastman, who is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University Fowler School of Law and Ilya Shapiro, who is Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute.