I’m a little late posting this, but I’d like to thank Professor Philip Hamburger and the Morningside Institute’s Nathaniel Peters for inviting me to participate earlier this month in a session of Columbia Law School’s Reading Group in the American Constitutional Tradition. The Reading Group is a for-credit seminar for 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLM students at Columbia Law. For the session in which I participated, the students read excerpts from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Among the issues we discussed in class were Tocqueville’s famous observation that lawyers form a sort of conservative aristocracy in America, a class of quasi-mystics with the ability to speak oracularly in the name of tradition. We still try around here. #TraditionProject
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- Pope Francis appears to have reversed himself on an alleged case of clergy sex abuse in Chile, calling his previous judgments “grave errors.”
- The rape and murder of a Muslim girl in India, allegedly by a group of Hindu men, has reignited religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims.
- A woman who was not retained as a teacher at a Christian school in Tennessee after becoming pregnant out of wedlock is challenging the school’s decision in federal court; the school has asserted the ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws in its defense.
- Oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the consolidated challenges to the third version of the Trump Administration’s travel ban are scheduled to take place on April 25.
- The 2020 Census questionnaire will explicitly ask respondents whether their spouse or unmarried partner is of the same sex or the opposite sex for the first time.
- A progressive think tank working together with a Columbia Law School center have collaborated on a report claiming that the Trump Administration is selectively expanding religious liberty rights for the benefit of conservative Christians.
- Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, rejected a measure that would have required people to use the bathroom and locker room facilities corresponding to their sex at birth. The campaign against the proposal raised a large amount of cash from out-of-state entities.
Here is a new volume of essays edited by our friend and a participant in our law and religion colloquium a few years ago, Robin Fretwell Wilson, dealing with religion and family law–obviously an issue that has always been rather complicated but has become even more so in recent years. The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (CUP), with essays by Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Sepper, Michael Helfand, Brian Bix, John Witte, and many others.
Like many beliefs, religious views matter across an individual’s life and the life cycle of a family – from birth to marriage, through child-rearing, and, eventually, death. This volume examines clashes over religious liberty within the personal realm of the family. Against swirling religious beliefs, secular values, and legal regulation, this volume offers a forward-looking examination of tensions between religious freedom and the state’s protective function. Contributors unpack some of the Court’s recent decisions and explain how they set the stage for ongoing disputes. They evaluate religious claims around birth control, circumcision, modesty, religious education, marriage, polygamy, shared parenting, corporal punishment, faith healing, divorce, and the end of life. Authors span legislators, attorneys, academics, journalists, ministers, physicians, child advocates, and representatives of minority faiths. The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law begins an overdue conversation on questions dividing the nation.