Law, Religion, and Complicity

May 8, 2018
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Room 399


Event Description

This conference addresses the latest round of conflicts between law and religious conviction. In these conflicts, religious adherents seek exemptions from general legal requirements on the grounds that the requirements would make them complicit in conduct their religion forbids. These are often difficult cases because sometimes the state can recognize the adherents’ rights to freedom of conscience only by risking or harming the equal standing of others in society. Thus Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, the 2014 Supreme Court case mounting a religious freedom challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, pitted conscience against reproductive rights. And a spate of wedding vendor cases – including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado, which the Supreme Court is set to decide this term -- pit LGBTQ individuals who wish to marry against business owners who harbor religious objections to same-sex marriage and so want to be released from public accommodations laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

There are many points of contestation in these conflicts, and there is much room for scholarly engagement. Relevant questions include:

  • When and why should the state accommodate religious convictions?
  • What makes a given contribution morally implicating? And who should decide if it is – the state or the religious adherent who fears for his soul?
  • Does it matter that the party seeking an accommodation is an organization? A for-profit business?
  • Should the fact that the legally compelled contribution would involve speech or art matter for purposes of determining whether the state should offer an accommodation?
  • When is a state-sanctioned refusal of service an instance of state action?
  • When is compelled service or compelled speech attributable, as a matter of moral responsibility, to the person offering it?

At this conference, law and religion scholars will share work addressing these and related questions. Participants are expected to have read the conference papers in advance. For access to the papers, please email Kim Girman, [email protected]. More information and a detailed program to follow.

Tentative Schedule:

9:00-9:50 am
Linda McClain, Boston University Law School - “‘This Isn’t 1864 Anymore’ – Or Is It? Competing Appeals to the Civil Rights Past in Present Controversies over ‘Religious Liberty versus LGBT Rights.’”
Commentator: Perry Dane, Rutgers Law School

9:50—10:40 am
Alan Patten, Princeton University - “The Shape of Religious Liberty.”
Commentator: John Corvino, Wayne State

10:55-11:45 am
Abner Greene, Fordham Law School - “The Dilemma of Liberal Pluralism.”
Commentator: Gabrielle Girgis, Princeton University

11:45-12:35 pm
Nico Cornell, University of Michigan Law School and Amy Sepinwall, UCHV Visiting Faculty Fellow and University of Pennsylvania - “Hypocrisy and Complicity.”
Commentator: Elizabeth Harman, Princeton University

1:45-2:35 pm
Nomi Stolzenberg, University of Southern California Law School - “Blindspot: Faith-Based Discrimination and the Misconception of Sherbert v. Verner”
Commentator: Amanda Shanor, ACLU

2:35-3:25 pm
Steve Heyman, Chicago-Kent Law School - “Religious Liberty, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Masterpiece Case.”
Commentator: Erin Miller, Princeton University

3:45-4:35 pm - Larry Sager, University of Texas Law School and Nelson Tebbe, Cornell Law School - “State Permissions and Structural Injustice.”
Commentator: Daniel Putnam, Princeton University

4:35-5:25 pm - Brian Hutler, UCLA Law and Philosophy - “Conscientious Objection or Political Protest, But Not Both.”
Commentator: Mark Movsesian, James Madison Visiting Fellow, Princeton University and St. John's Law School

Co-sponsored by the Program in Law and Public Affairs