Movsesian on Legal Docket on Dobbs

For those interested, I sat down today (virtually!) with journalist Mary Reichard at the Legal Docket podcast (a feature of “The World and Everything In It”) to discuss the Dobbs leak and why it so damages the Supreme Court as an institution. Here’s an excerpt:

MOVSESIAN: I know that people will look at this and say the important thing is abortion, why do we care that the justices are embarrassed? And I think that’s because, you know, people who think that way may not appreciate just how much is being undone, when members of the court think they cannot deliberate in confidence, when members of the court think that they can’t engage in a good faith discussion of the issues with their colleagues on the court, I think that really does threaten to destroy the institution in a way that will have very bad consequences for our law.

You can listen to the whole episode here.

Religious Freedom at the Founding

Here’s a new book right in the heartland of our projects at the Center by longtime Center friend and contributor Professor Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Religious Liberty and the American Founding: Natural Rights and the Original Meaning of the First Amendment Religion Clauses (Chicago Press forthcoming). I had the pleasure of reading a good chunk of this manuscript, and it is excellent on both the historical and theoretical sides of things. The work is deeply informed by Phillip’s prior work on the idea of natural rights at the founding and of their proper scope. It is probably fair to say that the scope of natural rights on Phillip’s account, at least for some of the significant rights we discuss today, is generally (not always) significantly narrower than what we tend to believe today. Tough and chewy, but small and digestible, might be a possible description (the blurb below says “minimalist”). That view of natural rights certainly has a powerful impact on the claims in this worthwhile book.

The Founders understood religious liberty to be an inalienable natural right. Vincent Phillip Muñoz explains what this means for church-state constitutional law, uncovering what we can and cannot determine about the original meanings of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and constructing a natural rights jurisprudence of religious liberty.  

Drawing on early state constitutions, declarations of religious freedom, Founding-era debates, and the First Amendment’s drafting record, Muñoz demonstrates that adherence to the Founders’ political philosophy would lead neither to consistently conservative nor consistently liberal results. Rather, adopting the Founders’ understanding would lead to a minimalist church-state jurisprudence that, in most cases, would return authority from the judiciary to the American people. Thorough and convincing, Religious Liberty and the American Founding is key reading for those seeking to understand the Founders’ political philosophy of religious freedom and the First Amendment Religion Clauses.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court denied review in Community Baptist Church v. Polis, a free exercise challenge to COVID restrictions imposed by Colorado. The challenge was brought by two churches and one of their pastors.
  • In Congregation Rabbinical College of Tartikov, Inc. v. Village of Pomona, New York, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal, on ripeness grounds, of a suit challenging two zoning laws that prevented plaintiff from building a rabbinical college on its property.
  • In Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse v. Nabors, the Sixth Circuit allowed a lawsuit to go forward challenging a Tennessee law that prohibits persons who receive online ordination from solemnizing marriages.
  • The Seventh Circuit heard oral arguments in Halczenko v. Ascension Health, Inc., in which a pediatric intensive care doctor is seeking a religious exemption from a hospital’s COVID vaccination requirement . 
  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter (“CAIR-MI”) announced that a settlement has been reached in a suit charging the city of Ferndale’s police department with forcibly removing a Muslim woman’s hijab for a booking photo after her arrest.
  • Virginia Governor Glen Younkin, has signed House Bill 1063, which broadly defines “religion” in the state’s civil rights laws to include actions and expressions, not just personal beliefs.