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Religion and the Law

Religious Liberty after the USCCR Report - Event Audio/Video

2017 National Student Symposium
William P. Marshall, Michael S. Paulsen, Marci A. Hamilton, Douglas Laycock, William H. Pryor Jr. March 15, 2017

In September, 2016, the United States Commission on Civil Rights released a report entitled Peaceful CoexistenceReconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties. In the report, the USCCR concluded that religious exercise is in tension with individual rights of certain subsections of the American population. It then went on to make a number of recommendations that suggest that that religious exercise must give way to civil rights protections when the two come into conflict: 

  • Narrow Tailoring of Religious Exceptions: Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.
  • Protections of Beliefs Over Conduct: The recognition of religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws and policies should be made pursuant to the holdings of Employment Division v. Smith, which protect religious beliefs rather than conduct.
  • Amending the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act (“RFRA") (and State equivalents): Federal legislation should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination. States with laws similar to RFRA should similarly amend their laws.

This panel will first explore whether the USSCR Report is correct that there is, in fact, an irreconcilable tension between religious liberty and civil liberties. And second, if there is a conflict between religious liberty and civil liberties, the panel will debate whether the recommendation by USCCR to limit religious exemptions is the best way to navigate such conflict.

This panel was presented at the 2017 National Student Symposium on Saturday, March 4, 2017, at Columbia Law School in New York City, New York.

Panel 3: Religious Liberty after the USCCR Report
2:00 p.m. -3:45 p.m.
Jerome Greene Hall 104

  • Prof. Bill Marshall, Kenan Professor of Law, University of North Carolina
  • Prof. Michael Paulsen, Distinguished University Chair and Professor, University of St. Thomas
  • Prof. Marci Hamilton, Fox Family Pavilion Distinguished Scholar, University of Pennsylvania
  • Prof. Douglas Laycock, Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law; University of Virginia Law School; Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
  • Moderator: Hon. William H. Pryor, Jr. U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit

Columbia Law School
New York, New York

Debate—State Blaine Amendments - Event Audio/Video

2017 Annual Western Chapters Conference
David Cortman, Steven Green, Carlos T. Bea, Lisa Ezell February 06, 2017

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley. The case questions whether the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Exercise of Religion and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Debaters will address this case along with the Blaine Amendment implications.

This panel was part of the 2017 Annual Western Chapters Conference at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA on January 28, 2017.

Debate—State Blaine Amendments
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

  • David A. Cortman, Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Prof. Steven Green, Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy, Willamette University College of Law
  • Moderator: Hon. Carlos Bea, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • Introduction: Lisa Ezell, Vice President & Director of Lawyers Chapters, The Federalist Society

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, CA

Views and opinions expressed by the Federalist Society are not necessarily shared by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

The Future of Religious Liberties under the New Administration - Podcast

Religious Liberties Practice Group Podcast
Thomas C. Berg, Richard W. Garnett December 15, 2016

What is ahead for religious liberties under the Trump administration? Will churches be granted a victory in Trinity Lutheran v. Pauley? Will Trump’s Justice and Education Departments continue the push for transgender rights in public schools? Professor Richard Garnett of The University of Notre Dame Law School and Professor Thomas Berg of the University of St. Thomas School of Law joined us to answer these questions and many others on religious liberties in 2017.

Featuring:

  • Professor Thomas C. Berg, James L. Oberstar Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law
  • Professor Richard W. Garnett, Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor and Concurrent Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame Law School