Law 654 - Contemporary Free Exercise Issues: Sword or Shield?

General Course Description:

Central to the extraordinary success of the American experiment is the ability of religious minorities to thrive. This success is largely attributable to the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses that signaled a new dawning of religious liberty. This seminar will focus on Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence with particular emphasis on the significant changes that have occurred in the past 25 years.

We will explore religious freedom in various contexts including the workplace, places of public accommodation, public schools and health care. Emphasis will be placed on the conflict between protecting religious freedom and ensuring equal treatment for all. What happens when safeguarding religious freedom is used as a guise for discrimination? How do courts and legislatures carve out exceptions in the name of religious liberty without striping laws of their effectiveness? Explore some of today’s most challenging and cutting-edge civil rights issues, from same sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws to women’s reproductive care and corporate constitutional rights, through the competing claims of equality and religious freedom.

Course Information: