Call for Papers: “Cooperating With Evil, Complicity With Sin”

Joel Nichols and Alan Brownstein are putting together an interesting and timely panel for the Law and Religion section at the January 2014 AALS meeting, to be held in New York City. The subject of the panel is “Cooperating With Evil Complicity With Sin.” I wish I had the time to do it, but I’ve long thought that it would be interesting if a criminal law scholar who had studied accomplice liability wrote an article comparing the idea of complicity in criminal law and in various religious traditions in which complicity figures as a theologically important concept. See below for the call for papers.

Section on Law and Religion

Call for Papers for January 2014 AALS Annual Meeting Program:

“Cooperating With Evil, Complicity with Sin”

From Alan Brownstein and Joel Nichols, Program Chairs for AALS Section on Law and Religion

The AALS Section on Law and Religion invites the submission of papers or abstracts (no more than 5 pages) for the purpose of selecting one or two speakers for a panel at the Section’s program at the January 2014 AALS annual meeting in New York. The program is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, from 2:00-3:45. Other invited speakers will also be on the panel also. The program description follows:

What does it mean for religious believers and groups to refrain from “cooperating with evil”? When does involvement with government action rise to condoning it? And who decides whether a religious objector is “participating” in and thereby “complicit” with religiously objectionable conduct? Such questions play a central role in the HHS contraceptive mandate debate but they arise in other controversies as well – ranging from religious objections to same-sex marriage to the conscience claims of pharmacists opposed to stocking or selling abortifacients.

Numerous doctrinal issues are relevant to a discussion of this problem. These include whether allegations of moral complicity satisfy the “substantial burden” requirement a RFRA or free exercise claimant must satisfy, and how courts should take attenuated causation questions into account if a substantial burden is found to exist. Other questions relate to the concern that an expansive conception of moral complicity may extend so broadly that general accommodation statutes (or constitutional interpretations) would become unacceptable in their scope and unmanageable in their operation.  This panel will explore these and other problems arising from the relationship between conceptions of moral complicity and the evaluation of religious liberty claims under constitutional or statutory law.

Submission Deadline and Procedures: Deadline is August 15, 2013. Abstracts should be submitted by email to Joel Nichols, Univ. of St. Thomas (MN) School of Law,

Proposal Requirements: An abstract of not more than five pages, or a completed paper.

Presentation and Publication: Any speaker chosen from this call will be expected to produce an original substantial paper, or to have already produced a substantial paper, a draft of which  will be available to be posted on the AALS web site prior to the annual meeting and that will be published in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal (MN) during the 2013-14 academic year.

Selection and Eligibility: Selection will be by blind review. Under AALS rules, only full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible. Faculty at fee-paid law schools; foreign, visiting, and adjunct faculty members; graduate students; fellows; and non-law-school faculty are not eligible. AALS rules require any speaker to pay the annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.