Supreme Court Declines to Hear Wedding Photographer Dispute

The Supreme Court today denied certiorari in Elane Photography v. Willock, the case involving a claim by a photography business that it was compelled to create images celebrating a gay wedding pursuant to New Mexico’s public accommodations statute, in violation of the business owner’s First Amendment rights.

The decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case leaves in place the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision against Elane Photography.

Glick, “The Israeli Solution”

Last month, Random House published The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan forThe Israeli Solution Peace in the Middle East by Caroline Glick.  The publisher’s description follows.

The reigning consensus in elite and academic circles is that the United States must seek to resolve the Palestinians’ conflict with Israel by implementing the so-called two-state solution. Establishing a Palestinian state, so the thinking goes, would be a panacea for all the region’s ills. It would end the Arab world’s conflict with Israel, because the reason the Arab world is anti-Israel is that there is no Palestinian state. It would also nearly erase the principal cause of the violent extremism in the rest of the Middle East.

In a time when American politics are marked by partisan gridlock, the two-state solution stands out for its ability to attract supporters from both sides of the ideological divide. But the great irony is that it is one of the most irrational and failed policies the United States has ever adopted.

Between 1970 and 2013, the United States presented nine different peace plans for Israel and the Palestinians, and for the past twenty years, the two state solution has been the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy. But despite this laser focus, American efforts to implement a two-state peace deal have failed—and with each new attempt, the Middle East has become less stable, more violent, more radicalized, and more inimical to democratic values and interests.

In The Israeli Solution, Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor to the Jerusalem Post, examines the history and misconceptions behind the two-state policy, most notably:

– The huge errors made in counting the actual numbers of Jews and Arabs in the region. The 1997 Palestinian Census, upon which most two-state policy is based, wildly exaggerated the numbers of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

– Neglect of the long history of Palestinian anti-Semitism, refusal to negotiate in good faith, terrorism, and denial of Israel’s right to exist.

– Disregard for Israel’s stronger claims to territorial sovereignty under international law, as well as the long history of Jewish presence in the region.

– Indifference to polling data that shows the Palestinian people admire Israeli society and governance. Despite a half-century of domestic and international terrorism, anti-semitism, and military attacks from regional neighbors who reject its right to exist, Israel has thrived as the Middle East’s lone democracy.

After a century spent chasing a two-state policy that hasn’t brought the Israelis and Palestinians any closer to peace, The Israeli Solution offers an alternative path to stability in the Middle East based on Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

The Weekly Five

This week’s list offers articles on religion and the war on terror and the relationship between secular and religious authority. We then feature three pieces from the handsomely reconstituted Journal of Law and Religion.

1. Malick W. Ghachem (MIT; Maine Law School), Religious Liberty and the Financial War on Terror: Professor Ghachem focuses particularly on the way in which the religious freedom of Muslim Americans has been affected by the war on terror, including the effect of cases such as Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project on Muslim American charities.

2. Benjamin Berger (Osgoode Hall Law School), Belonging to Law: Religious Difference, Secularism, and the Conditions of Civic Inclusion: Professor Berger argues that the idea of and appeal to secular law is a kind of “technique” or “repertoire of moves” that may be used to negotiate the relationship between civil and religious authority.

3. Luke Timothy Johnson (Emory, Theology), Happiness and the Restless Heart: An Augustinian Confession: Professor Johnson examines and reflects on the meaning of certain lines from Augustine for the “elusive yet all-important dimension of human life we call happiness–or, more often for Christians, joy.”

4. John Witte, Jr. & Christopher J. Manzer (Emory Law School), A Prequel to Law and Revolution: A Long Lost Manuscript of Harold J. Berman Comes to Light: Fascinating intellectual history in which Professor Witte and Mr. Manzer explore an early text by Professor Berman titled, “Law and Language,” which adumbrates several themes that later emerged and were developed in Berman’s masterwork, Law and Revolution. Berman had already mentioned his interest in reviving historical jurisprudence in the early volume.

5. M. Christian Green (Fellow at the Emory Center for the Study of Law and Religion), Between Blasphemy and Critique: Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech: A massive review of five books (by Amos Guiora, Paul Marshall & Nina Shea, Austin Dacey, Jeremy Waldron, and an edited volume on blasphemy and free speech) each of which treats the subject of defamation of religion and freedom of speech. The questions addressed in the review include: “Should speech that is critical of or hostile to religion or particular religions be banned if it offends religious feelings? What if the speech rises to the level of incitement to hatred or violence? Absent confirmed correlation of incitement to actual violence and its effects, how can we describe the harm that speech about religion can inflict? Can the boundaries of acceptable speech about religion be defined broadly enough to include legitimate critique of religion, and if so, who determines the parameters of acceptability? Or, as the title question of one recent book put it, Is critique secular?”— such that there is an inherent and inevitable conflict between freedom of religion and the possibility of its critique?”

Driessen, “Religion and Democratization”

Next month, Oxford University Press will publish Religion and Democratization: Framing Religious and Political Identities in Muslim and Catholic Societies by Religion and DemocratizationMichael D. Driessen (John Cabot University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Religion and Democratization is a comparative study of democratization in Muslim and Catholic societies. It explores the nature and impact of “religiously friendly democratization” processes, which institutionally favor a religion of state and allow religious political parties to contest elections. The book argues that religiously friendly democratization transforms both the democratic politics and religious life of society. The book explains this transformation by modeling the effects of religiously friendly democratization on the political goals of religious leaders and the political salience of religious identities. In a religiously charged national setting, religiously friendly democratization can generate more support for democracy among religious actors. By embedding religious ideas and values into its institutions, however, religiously friendly democratization also impacts national religious markets, creating more favorable conditions for the emergence of public religions and altering trajectories of religious life.

In making these arguments, the book draws on and advances recent scholarship from political science, sociology and philosophy on the relationship between religion and state in contemporary democracies. It engages empirical debates about global patterns of secularization and religious belief; normative debates about the role of public religions in post-secular societies; and theoretical debates about the democratic future of political Islam and political Catholicism.

The book anchors its theoretical claims in case studies of Italy and Algeria, integrating original qualitative evidence and statistical data on voters’ political and religious attitudes. It also compares the dynamics of religiously friendly democratization across the Muslim world today in Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia. Finally, the book examines the theory’s wider relevance through a statistical analysis of cross-national data on democracy, religiosity and religion-state relationships.