The Weekly Five

This week we feature new work on the rhetoric of US Supreme Court opinions; a comparative study of same-sex unions; more specific studies of polygamy and gay marriage; the legal status of women in Pakistan; and claims of religious accommodation in the workplace.

1. Steven Douglas Smith (University of San Diego), The Jurisprudence of Denigration: Smith reflects on Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in United States v. Windsor (2013). Specifically, he criticizes Kennedy’s claim in the opinion that supporters of Section 3 of DOMA acted from a  a “purpose…to demean,” “to injure,” and “to disparage.” He concludes that this type of denigrating jurisprudence reflects more general patterns in constitutional and moral discourse, in which “the only kind of admissible and potentially persuasive argument is one that attacks the character or motives of one’s opponent.”

2. W. Cole Durham (BYU), Robert Theron Smith (BYU), William C. Duncan (Marriage Law Foundation), A Comparative Analysis of Laws Pertaining to Same-Sex Unions: The authors survey various countries’ approach to the regulation of same-sex unions, and they argue that, as to those countries that recognize same-sex unions, legal change through legislative processes has certain advantages over legal change through the courts.

3. Danièle Hervieu-Léger (French National Center for Scientific Research & Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and Janet Bennion (Lyndon State College), The Meanings of Marriage in the West: Law, Religion and ‘Nature’: Both authors discuss the sense in which law rejects “natural” conceptions of marriage. Bennion focuses on polygamous communities in Montana, Utah, and Mexico. She “reject[s] the notion that polygamy is uniformly abusive, anti-feminist, and dysfunctional.” Hervieu-Léger instead focuses on gay marriage. She is puzzled by, and criticizes, “the way in which the Catholic Church (by which I refer to its institutional representatives) has tried to use this debate to reassert its normative capacity within the public sphere.”

4. Zia Ullah Ranjah (International Islamic University–Islamabad) & Shahbaz Ahmad Cheema (University of the Punjab), Protection of Legal Status of Women in Pakistan: An Analysis of the Role of the Supreme Court: The authors discuss the function of the Supreme Court of Pakistan within Pakistan’s constitutional structure and the court’s role in protecting the rights of women, offering various recommendations.

5. Dallan Flake (BYU), Image is Everything: Corporate Branding and Religious Accommodation in the Workplace: Flake claims that courts should more closely scrutinize claims of religious accommodation within the workplace “because a company’s image is one of its most valuable assets.” Among his recommendations are that courts reject claims of accommodation if they impose anything more than de minimis burdens on employers and that they defer more broadly to the employers’ interest.

Aronoff, “The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers”

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard-Liners Opt for Peace by Yael S. Aronoff (James Madison College).  PO Psychology The publisher’s description follows.

This book examines leaders of the seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. It takes as an intellectual target of opportunity six Israeli prime ministers, asking why some of them have persisted in some hard-line positions but others have opted to become peacemakers. This book argues that some leaders do change, and above all it explains why and how such changes come about. This book goes beyond arguing simply that “leaders matter” by analyzing how their particular belief systems and personalities can ultimately make a difference to their country’s foreign policy, especially toward a long-standing enemy. Although no hard-liner can stand completely still in the face of important changes, only those with ideologies that have specific components that act as obstacles to change and who have an orientation toward the past may need to be replaced for dramatic policy changes to take place.

Quero & Shoji, “Transnational Faiths”

Next month, Ashgate will publish Transnational Faiths: Latin-American Immigrants and Their Religions in Japan by Hugo Córdova Quero (Graduate Transnational FaithsTheological Union) and Rafael Shoji (Pontifical Catholic University).  The publisher’s description follows.

Japan has witnessed the arrival of thousands of immigrants, since the 1990s, from Latin America, especially from Brazil and Peru. Along with immigrants from other parts of the world, they all express the new face of Japan – one of multiculturality and multi-ethnicity. Newcomers are having a strong impact in local faith communities and playing an unexpected role in the development of communities.

This book focuses on the role that faith and religious institutions play in the migrants’ process of settlement and integration. The authors also focus on the impact of immigrants’ religiosity amidst religious groups formerly established in Japan. Religion is an integral aspect of the displacement and settlement process of immigrants in an increasing multi-ethnic, multicultural and pluri-religious contemporary Japan. Religious institutions and their social networks in Japan are becoming the first point of contact among immigrants. This book exposes and explores the often missed connection of the positive role of religion and faith-based communities in facilitating varied integrative ways of belonging for immigrants. The authors highlight the faith experiences of immigrants themselves by bringing their voices through case studies, interviews, and ethnographic research throughout the book to offer an important contribution to the exploration of multiculturalism in Japan.