Saeed, “Islam and Human Rights”

This October, Edward Elgar Publishing will publish Islam and Human Rights edited by Abdullah Saeed (University of Melbourne). The publisher’s description follows.

In this topical collection, Professor Abdullah Saeed brings together seminal articles encompassing key issues in the debates surrounding Islam and human rights. Topics covered in this comprehensive two-volume set include approaches to international human rights, freedom of expression, the right to equality under Islamic law and Islamic human rights schemes. The editor has also included a number of case studies which, along with an original introduction, greatly enhance the depth of the collection. This authoritative and timely book will be of great interest to both academics and practitioners and will serve as an excellent reference tool for anyone with an interest in Islam and human rights.

Ferrari & Pastorelli, “Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective”

This September, Ashgate Publishing Company will publish Religion in Public Spaces: A European Perspective edited by Silvio Ferrari (University of Milan) and Sabrina Pastorelli (University of Milan). The publisher’s description follows.

This timely volume discusses the much debated and controversial subject of the presence of religion in the public sphere. The book is divided in three sections. In the first the public/private distinction is studied mainly from a theoretical point of view, through the contributions of lawyers, philosophers and sociologists. In the following sections their proposals are tested through the analysis of two case studies, religious dress codes and places of worship. These sections include discussions on some of the most controversial recent cases from around Europe with contributions from some of the leading experts in the area of law and religion.

Covering a range of very different European countries including Turkey, the UK, Italy and Bulgaria, the book uses comparative case studies to illustrate how practice varies significantly even within Europe. It reveals how familiarization with religious and philosophical diversity in Europe should lead to the modification of legal frameworks historically designed to accommodate majority religions. This in turn should give rise to recognition of new groups and communities and eventually, a more adequate response to the plurality of religions and beliefs in European society.

Day & Diaz on The Affordable Care Act and Religious Freedom

Terri Day & Leticia M. Diaz (Barry U. Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law) have posted The Affordable Care Act and Religious Freedom: The Next Battleground. The abstract follows.

This article presents a comprehensive analysis of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate, which is the controversial required insurance coverage for preventative and wellness services, which include all FDA approved contraceptives, sterilizations, and related patient education and counseling. Failure to provide this coverage will result in an employer penalty. Non-exempt religious employers/insurers contend that this Mandate requires them to violate their freedom of conscience or suffer a penalty. The article discusses the religious reaction to the Mandate and provides a thorough legal analysis of the constitutional issues. Based on the recent health care decision and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will apply strict scrutiny review as required by the Religious Freedom Reformation Act, the authors conclude that the HHS Mandate will not likely pass constitutional muster.

Viroli, “As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy”

This September, Princeton University Press will publish As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy by Maurizio Viroli (Princeton University). The publisher’s description follows.

Religion and liberty are often thought to be mutual enemies: if religion has a natural ally, it is authoritarianism–not republicanism or democracy. But in this book, Maurizio Viroli, a leading historian of republican political thought, challenges this conventional wisdom. He argues that political emancipation and the defense of political liberty have always required the self-sacrifice of people with religious sentiments and a religious devotion to liberty. This is particularly the case when liberty is threatened by authoritarianism: the staunchest defenders of liberty are those who feel a deeply religious commitment to it.

Viroli makes his case by reconstructing, for the first time, the history of the Italian “religion of liberty,” covering its entire span but focusing on three key examples of political emancipation: the free republics of the late Middle Ages, the Risorgimento of the nineteenth century, and the antifascist Resistenza of the twentieth century. In each example, Viroli shows, a religious spirit that regarded moral and political liberty as the highest goods of human life was fundamental to establishing and preserving liberty. He also shows that when this religious sentiment has been corrupted or suffocated, Italians have lost their liberty.

This book makes a powerful and provocative contribution to today’s debates about the compatibility of religion and republicanism.

Lecture: Religious Freedom in America Today

The Lumen Christi Institute will host a lecture by our friend Rick Garnett (Notre Dame), “Religious Freedom in America Today,” in Chicago on September 26.  The description of the lecture follows. If you’re in Chicago, make sure to go. Rick is one of America’s leading law and religion scholars and always has something valuable to say. Details are here.

As President Clinton observed, “religious freedom is . . . our first freedom.” It was central to the Founders’ vision for the American political community. They did not always agree about what religious freedom means or requires, but they knew that it matters, and that it should be respected in policy and protected by law. James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, hoped that America’s religious-liberty experiment “promised a lustre to our country.” This lecture will take stock of this experiment and consider the rights of religious believers and institutions and their roles and voices in American public life today.

Welcome to Don Drakeman, and Thanks to Steve Smith

Mark and I are excited to announce that our guest blogger for the month of September will be Donald Drakeman.  Don is an enormously talented person: an extremely successful entrepreneur and also an absolutely superb historian and legal scholar.  Currently, he is a Venture Partner in Advent Venture Partners as well as a fellow in health management of the Judge Business School at Cambridge University.  If you have not read his book, Church, State, and Original Intent (CUP 2009), you should do so immediately (a post about the book is here).  For a sampling of his more recent work, take a look at his excellent piece, co-authored with Joel Alicea, The Limits of the New Originalism.  Welcome, Don!

And thanks also to the great Steve Smith, whom we’ve enjoyed having.  You can find his posts by clicking on his name at the right.  We look forward very much to having Steve back with us from time to time.

ECtHR Rules That Ban on Screening IVF Embryos for Genetic Defects Violates European Convention

A chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday that Italy’s ban on testing IVF-created embryos for genetic defects violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Italian law permits IVF in limited circumstances, but forbids pre-implantation testing of embryos; on the other hand, Italian law allows women to abort fetuses conceived through natural reproduction if the fetuses  have certain diseases, for example, cystic fibrosis. In the case before the chamber, an Italian couple who were healthy carriers of cystic fibrosis wished to conceive through IVF and to have all embryos tested for the disease before implantation. The chamber ruled that the Italian ban violated article 8’s grant of a right to respect for private and family life. The chamber rejected Italy’s argument that the ban was  justified, among other reasons, to avoid the risk of eugenic abuses. This was a legitimate aim, the chamber said, but the ban on pre-implantation testing seemed “disproportionate,” given that Italy allowed women to abort naturally-conceived fetuses that showed signs of the disease. In effect, Italy was requiring parents in the applicants’ position to conceive through natural means but then abort a fetus that showed signs of cystic fibrosis, a choice that would bring the parents only more anxiety and suffering. Italy’s IVF law is one of Europe’s most restrictive, a result, in part, of the influence of the Catholic Church. Italy has three months to appeal the chamber decision. The case is Costa and Pavan v. Italy (ECtHR, Aug. 28, 2012), available here (follow the link for the PDF).

Mahoney on Tocqueville on Democracy and Religion

Daniel J. Mahoney (Assumption College) has an interesting podcast about Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.  The more particular discussion of the relationship of religion and democracy in Tocqueville’s writing occurs at the 20 minute mark, where Mahoney reflects a bit on Tocqueville’s chapter on “pantheism” as a special danger in America.  Here’s a fragment from that short chapter:

When the conditions of society are becoming more equal and each individual man becomes more like all the rest, more weak and insignificant, a habit grows up of ceasing to notice the citizens and considering only the people, of overlooking individuals to think only of their kind. At such times the human mind seeks to embrace a multitude of different objects at once, and it constantly strives to connect a variety of consequences with a single cause. The idea of unity so possesses man and is sought by him so generally that if he thinks he has found it, he readily yields himself to repose in that belief. Not content with the discovery that there is nothing in the world but a creation and a Creator, he is still embarrassed by this primary division of things and seeks to expand and simplify his conception by including God and the universe in one great whole.

A Bonanza at the Journal of Church and State

You ought to take some time to peruse the many interesting new articles and reviews recently published by the Journal of Church and State (some or all pieces may be behind a pay wall).  Among the highlights:

  • “The Number One Social Problem of our Time”: American Protestants and Temperance Politics in the 1950s, by Pamela Pennock
  • Spinoza’s Political Theology: Theocracy, Democracy, and Monism, by Andy Alexis-Baker
  • Kirpans, Law and Religious Symbols in Schools, by Satvinder Singh Juss
  • The Path Not Taken: Tocqueville, the Freedom of Education, and Alfred Stepan’s “Twin Tolerations” in France, 1843-50, by David A. Selby
  • Alan Brownstein’s review of Robert Audi’s book, Democratic Authority and the Separation of Church and State
  • Adam Carrington’s review of Paul Horwitz’s book, The Agnostic Age: Law, Religion, and the Constitution
  • Ran Hirschl’s review of of Law and Religion in the 21st Century: Religion Between States and Religious Communities (edited by Silvio Ferrari and Rinaldo Cristofori)

Weiss & Gross-Horowitz, “Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State”

This December, Brandeis University Press will publish Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel’s Civil War by Susan M. Weiss (Center for Women’s Justice) and Netty C. Gross-Horowitz (Jerusalem Report). The publisher’s description follows.

A comprehensive look at how rabbinical courts control Israeli marriage and divorce

Israel currently has two recognized systems of law operating side by side: civil and religious. Israeli religious courts possess exclusive rights to conduct and terminate marriages. There is no civil marriage or divorce in Israel, irrespective of one’s religious inclinations. All Muslims must marry and divorce in accordance with shariya laws, all Catholics in accordance with canon law, and all Jews in accordance with Torah law (halakha). The interpretation and implementation of Torah law is in the hands of the Orthodox religious establishment, the only stream of Judaism that enjoys legal recognition in Israel. These religious authorities strenuously oppose any changes to this so-called “status quo” arrangement between religious and secular. In fact, religious courts in Israel are currently pressing for expanded jurisdiction beyond personal status, stressing their importance to Israel’s growing religious community.

This book shows how religious courts, based on centuries-old patriarchal law, undermine the full civil and human rights of Jewish women in Israel. Making a broad argument for civil marriage and divorce in Israel, the authors also emphasize that religious marriages and divorces, when they do occur, must benefit from legislation that makes divorce easier to obtain. Using this issue as their focal point, they speak to a larger question: Is Israel a democracy or a theocracy?