Religious Freedom

President Trump has promised to protect religious liberty—but in ways that may injure other groups, offend many faith traditions, and establish (rather than truly accommodate) religion.

Symmetric Constitutionalism for a Polarized Era

10/30/18  //  Commentary

Judges should strive toward constitutional understandings that protect the interests of people on different sides of the ideological spectrum

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

Birth Control Is Not Abortion

9/7/18  //  Quick Reactions

By Greg Lipper: At his confirmation hearing, Judge Kavanaugh used the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs" while referring to a case he heard on the DC Circuit. This description of the case is at odds with modern science and suggests his hostility to foundational privacy precedents.

Take Care

Elusive Silver Linings & The Deregulatory First Amendment

7/9/18  //  Commentary

Sometimes the oncoming storm is easier to spot than the silver linings.

The Travel Ban and Inter-Branch Conflict

6/26/18  //  Commentary

The real problem is the Trump Administration itself. What feels like damage today is largely the echo of damage that already happened, rather than something new.

Richard Primus

University of Michigan Law School

SCOTUS Crisis Pregnancy Center Case Shows Originalist Justices Are Originalist Except When They're Not

6/26/18  //  Commentary

Let's not kid ourselves. Today's decision in NIFLA is an ideological decision.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

President Trump, Your Words Do Matter (And Should Doom Your Muslim Ban)

6/21/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

Sirine Shebaya and Johnathan Smith: Trump has never been bashful about his anti-Muslim animus. And he has invoked that animus in creating policies, in defiance of the Constitution.

Take Care

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

The Senate confirmed Sam Brownback, former Kansas governor, as the American Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom. HHS's new religious freedom division constitutes a new attack on women's health, wrote Jamille Fields at The Hill.

Updates | The Week of December 18, 2017

12/24/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump’s Muslim ban echoes Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II, and the Supreme Court should not make the same mistake today. President Trump has abandoned his campaign promises to help Christian refugees as his administration has accepted significantly fewer than previous administrations.

Update | The Week of November 27, 2017

12/4/17  //  Daily Update

This week, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop, a case invoking the conflict between religious beliefs and non-discrimination ordinances.

Jeffrey Stein

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of July 31, 2017

8/6/17  //  Daily Update

The White House met with evangelical leaders.

Updates | The Week of July 17, 2017

6/25/17  //  Daily Update

The ACLU alleges the Trump Administration's plans to expand religious freedom may amount to a license to discriminate.

Updates | The Week of June 5, 2017

6/11/17  //  Daily Update

A federal district court ruled that the Supreme Court's ban on plaza demonstrations does not violate RFRA.

Masterpiece Cakeshop: Beware the False Equivalence

2/12/18  //  Commentary

Tolerating discrimination and tolerating the desire not to be discriminated against are simply not the same.

Masterpiece Cakeshop and Protecting Both Sides

6/15/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

By Thomas C. Berg & Douglas Laycock: The classic American response to deep conflicts like that between gay rights and traditional religious faith is to protect the liberty of both sides

Take Care

Guantánamo and President Trump’s Anti-Muslim Animus

1/24/18  //  Commentary

By Nimra Azmi and Sirine Shebaya: Trump's position on Guantánamo perfectly aligns with his habitual rejection of the idea that Muslims accused of terrorism are entitled to any constitutional protections

Take Care

No Peeking? Korematsu and Judicial Credulity

3/22/17  //  Commentary

The Supreme Court's decision in the Japanese Internment Cases offers a chilling reminder of why courts cannot close their eyes to clear evidence of bigotry in executive orders supposedly justified by security concerns.

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed (With DOJ's Brief in the Fourth Circuit)

3/27/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Department of Justice has filed a brief in the Fourth Circuit defending President Trump's revised entry ban. This is not an impressive brief: it is rife with misstatements of fact and incorrect legal arguments.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

The First Amendment Does Not Give Commercial Businesses a License to Discriminate

11/1/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

In Masterpiece, the Petitioner's argument would wreak havoc on long established First Amendment principles, giving businesses a right to disregard content-neutral regulations of their conduct

Religious Freedom and the Masterpiece Case

10/31/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Robbie Kaplan and I have filed a brief on behalf of Church-State Scholars addressing the Free Exercise Clause issues in this important case.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Women Should Decide When and How to “Dress Like a Woman”

3/17/17  //  Commentary

The President should set a better example for other employers and leave the question of how to dress like a woman—with all of the trade-offs and nuances it entails—to the people who actually have to do it.

Richard Thompson Ford

Stanford Law School

Fury and Despair over the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling are Misplaced

6/6/18  //  Quick Reactions

Justice Kennedy makes an open-ended call for tolerance and compromise in his opinion. For that, he should be commended

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Masterpiece Cakeshop: The Loss that is a Win

6/5/18  //  Quick Reactions

In some cases, the public perception of a case — not its actual holding — is what is most important.

Amanda Shanor

Yale Law School

Trump’s Latest Affront To Women, and to the Constitution

6/2/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

A draft of the Trump Administration's revised contraception mandate has been leaked. If implemented, this policy would weaken civil rights for women. Moreover, the plan could violate the Establishment Clause by providing a religious accommodation for some private citizens only by shifting costs to others who may not share their beliefs.

Nelson Tebbe

Brooklyn Law School

Micah Schwartzman

University of Virginia School of Law

Richard C. Schragger

UVA School of Law

Versus Trump: 2017 Scorecard

1/4/18  //  Uncategorized

On the first episode of Versus Trump of 2018, Jason and Charlie look back at Versus Trump cases in 2017 and score them as Administration wins, losses, or not-yet-decided. They also look ahead at big issues to come in 2018. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Our Constitution Forbids a Religious Test for Immigration

4/19/18  //  Commentary

The Supreme Court should strike down Trump’s travel ban.

[UPDATED] Don't Believe the Hype: Understanding the Johnson Amendment Kerfuffle

5/4/17  //  Uncategorized

An executive order to be issued today likely will direct the IRS to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious leaders from speaking about politics and candidates from the pulpit.” Here's what that means and why it matters.

Marty Lederman

Georgetown Law

Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Effort To Rewrite Smith and its Progeny

9/21/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

A sleeper issue is brought center stage by two leading religious liberty scholars

Jim Oleske

Lewis & Clark Law School

What Trump Got Wrong In The Rose Garden

5/4/17  //  Quick Reactions

President Trump misstates the law, and mischaracterizes his own Executive Order, in the Rose Garden.

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

Moral Convictions And The Contraception Exemptions

6/5/17  //  Commentary

Yet another major flaw in the draft contraception rule, which would not only allow employers to drop contraception coverage for *religious* reasons, but would also (without any lawful basis) allow employers who have *moral* objections to do the same.

Nick Bagley

University of Michigan Law School

A Legal Challenge to Trump's "Religious Liberty" Executive Order

5/5/17  //  Commentary

Yesterday, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump’s most recent Executive Order, “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” While there has been muted reaction to Trump’s executive order, the FFRF complaint makes two important points that have been mostly unappreciated.

Richard C. Schragger

UVA School of Law

The Establishment Clause and the Muslim Ban

3/18/17  //  Commentary

Why the Establishment Clause Has Emerged as the Chief Stumbling Block for Trump's Muslim Ban

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

An Analysis of DOJ's Brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop

10/18/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

DOJ's effort to to transform this case into a freedom of speech decision threatens the integrity of First Amendment rights. It should be rejected.

Robert Post

Yale Law School

Smith Lives: The Politics of Free Exercise

6/12/18  //  Commentary

Will SCOTUS minimize its view of religious animus as applied to Muslims, despite having just magnified it as applied to conservative Christians?

Richard C. Schragger

UVA School of Law

Oceans Apart But Still a Close Familial Relation

9/5/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Analysis of the Ninth Circuit's latest travel ban argument (and some personal reflections).

The Slants, Government Speech, and Elane Photography

6/22/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling in Matal v. Tam, the government speech doctrine will not swallow the First Amendment.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Versus Trump Emergency Pod: JD v. DHS

10/26/17  //  Commentary

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Easha and Charlie have a quick turn-around emergency pod to discuss an ongoing—wait, just now resolved—case filed by a pregnant 17-year-old girl in federal immigration custody who seeks an abortion. Easha and Charlie first talk about the procedural wrangling that this case has wrought and second about the legal claims in the case, which bring them into the exciting worlds of reproductive rights, immigration law, and international relations. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Complicity and Speech: The Right’s New Effort to Rewrite the First Amendment

12/4/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Conservative legal activists have pushed a sweeping view of the First Amendment’s protection against compelled speech. These new complicity claims should fail.

What’s the Price of Tolerance?

12/7/17  //  Commentary

Robust protection of speech does not require gutting laws that help ensure that all persons—regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation—can buy the good and services they desire, free from discrimination.

Andrew Sullivan Is Wrong About Public-Accommodations Law

5/10/17  //  Commentary

Andrew Sullivan recently criticized gay people who seek to obtain services from those with religious objections to serving them. But Sullivan's criticism fundamentally misunderstands the basic purpose of public accommodations laws and should be rejected.

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Ducking Day at the SCOTUS

6/5/18  //  Commentary

There are times when strategic ducking makes sense practically if not strictly legally

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

What About the Free Speech Clause Issue in Masterpiece?

6/13/18  //  Commentary

Robert Post of Yale Law considers the status of free speech objections to serving same-sex couples in light of the Court's opinion.

Robert Post

Yale Law School

The Trump Administration May Already Have What It Needs for a Serviceable (and Unconstitutional) “Muslim Registry”

4/19/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Trump Administration may already have the tools it would need to predict with high accuracy the religious identity of a significant percentage of U.S. citizens and visiting Muslims. And software engineers, not lawyers, may be our first line of alarm and defense.

Animus, Past and Present

5/9/17  //  Commentary

In a new op-ed, Erwin Chemerinsky and I argue that the entry ban is unconstitutional because it was driven by animus toward Muslims.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Trinity Lutheran: A Double Blow to the Establishment Clause

6/30/17  //  Commentary

Our current political climate makes it especially troubling to imagine the government privileging majority religions over minority ones.

Take Care

What Masterpiece Cakeshop is Really About

12/6/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Masterpiece Cakeshop, is not interested in a narrow exemption. Rather, ADF is taking aim at the very legitimacy of LGBT people and legal protections for them.

Douglas NeJaime

Yale Law School

Reva Siegel

Yale Law School

The Ninth Circuit's Latest Order and The Zombie Travel Ban

9/7/17  //  Quick Reactions

And now what? We’re condemned to battle the zombie-like remains of this cruel order as it shuffles about the world for just a few more weeks, ruining lives and embarrassing our tradition of religious liberty.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

The Travel Ban and the Ontology of the Compelling Interest Test

10/6/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Maybe the whole compelling interest test is misguided in Establishment Clause cases.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

The First Amendment Belongs Only to Americans? Wrong

3/29/17  //  Commentary

The First Amendment makes America great for everyone, not just for citizens.

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Opposing Trump's Muslim Ban at the Supreme Court

6/16/17  //  Quick Reactions

President Trump has asked the Supreme Court to lift the stay preventing him from implementing his travel ban. Nelson Tebbe, Micah Schwartzman and I, along with a large group of constitutional law scholars, have filed a brief opposing Trump's motion.

Corey Brettschneider

Brown University

Why Trump's Travel Ban Statements Compel a Finding of Improper Purpose

4/6/17  //  Commentary

Trump's statements about the revised travel ban overwhelmingly evidence a purpose at odds with the Establishment Clause. And few, if any, of those statements evince actual, substantive national security or foreign affairs objectives that explain the bizarre scope of his order.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

The Supreme Court’s Upside-Down Decision In Masterpiece

6/7/18  //  Quick Reactions

By Nelson Tebbe & Larry Sager: Now is the time to solidify our understanding of Masterpiece, because other wedding vendor cases are still pending in the Supreme Court and in lower courts.

Nelson Tebbe

Brooklyn Law School

Honor Killings and the Travel Bans

10/4/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Anti-Muslim animus on the face of the second travel ban requires clear proof that the third one is free of such bigotry.

Justice Gorsuch, Kippahs, and False Analogies in Masterpiece Cakeshop

6/19/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Court’s newest member embraces a troubling “both sides” argument

Jim Oleske

Lewis & Clark Law School

Trump and Pence Invoke Conscience to Block Contraception, Contrary to Our Religious Liberty Tradition

6/4/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Regulatory changes that the Trump-Pence Administration reportedly plans to implement extend well beyond our religious liberty traditions (and beyond accommodations authorized by the Supreme Court)

Douglas NeJaime

Yale Law School

Reva Siegel

Yale Law School

The Muslim Ban and Trump's Latest Tweets

6/5/17  //  Quick Reactions

Thanks in part to the President's own recent tweets and public comments, the case for concluding that his revised travel ban is unconstitutional has now become overwhelming.

Corey Brettschneider

Brown University

A Lurking Threat to LGBT Rights & Religious Freedom

4/3/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Today, the Fifth Circuit hears argument in a major case about the future of religious liberty and LGBT rights. The law under review, HB 1523, is flagrantly unconstitutional. And the result of this appeal may profoundly influence Trump's still-evolving policies.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Magic-Words Thinking in Trump v. Hawaii -- or, How Not to Assess Governmental Motive

4/25/18  //  Commentary

Giving President Trump the benefit of the doubt is one thing. Fictionalizing an account of his motive so as to avoid reaching a certain conclusion is something else.

Richard Primus

University of Michigan Law School

The Imperatives of Structure: The Travel Ban, the Establishment Clause, and Standing to Sue

4/3/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

In the Fourth Circuit travel ban appeal, DOJ contends that the plaintiffs lack standing. But a deeper examination of the Establishment Clause proves that the plaintiffs’ claims must be heard on the merits.

Ira C. Lupu

George Washington University Law School

Peter J. Smith

George Washington University Law School

Robert W. Tuttle

George Washington University Law School

Three Problems With the SG's Klan Hypo in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Oral Argument

12/6/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

If the baker loses in Masterpiece, could the government compel an African American sculptor to sculpt a cross for a Klan service? No, it could not.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Challenging the 'Travel Ban' in the Supreme Court

9/19/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Will the President’s own words mean nothing to the Court, even as they mean everything to millions affected by his order?

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Masterpiece Cakeshop and Reading Smith Carefully: A Reply to Jim Oleske

10/30/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Thomas C. Berg and Douglas Laycock respond to criticism of their amicus brief in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

Take Care

Here's Why SCOTUS Should Block Travel Ban 3.0

4/17/18  //  In-Depth Analysis

The government can't act based on animus toward particular religions. But that's exactly what Trump did.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Against Deference: Considering the Trump Travel Ban

12/8/17  //  Commentary

By Vicki Jackson & Judith Resnik: Upholding the third travel ban out of deference to the President on matters of foreign affairs would be a tragic mistake.

Take Care

Is the Trinity Lutheran Church Case Moot?

4/18/17  //  Commentary

Under President Trump, questions about the role of religion have come to the fore. The Supreme Court was set to decide a major Free Exercise issue this Term, but it now seems that the case is moot.

Marty Lederman

Georgetown Law

Doubling Down on a Deeply Troubling Argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop

11/14/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Tom Berg and Douglas Laycock defend a novel theory that could eviscerate civil rights laws

Jim Oleske

Lewis & Clark Law School

Deep Problems with the Proposed Executive Order on Religious Freedom

5/3/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

It's rumored that tomorrow, Trump will issue an executive order on "religious freedom," singling out for protection only traditional and conservative religious views on sex, marriage, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy. That order will most certainly raise grave constitutional issues under the Establishment Clause.

Ira C. Lupu

George Washington University Law School

Robert W. Tuttle

George Washington University Law School

Why Courts Have Probed Trump’s Motives for the Travel Ban

4/4/17  //  Commentary

Perceptions of presidential bad faith have given judges the fortitude to do what the law already demands of them, even though their actions might prompt the President to bash them by name on TV or Twitter.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

A Landmark Victory for LGBT Rights (And The Path Ahead)

4/5/17  //  Commentary

The en banc Seventh Circuit has held that Title VII protects against sexual orientation discrimination. SCOTUS is likely to grant review of this important issue in the near future. But it remains unclear what position the Trump Administration will take.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Animus Revisited: DOJ Fails To Explain Change in Position on Relevance of Campaign Statements

6/23/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

DOJ can't distinguish a case from 1995 in which it took a diametrically opposed view on the relevance of campaign statements.

Jim Oleske

Lewis & Clark Law School

Those Who Do Not Know History

4/12/17  //  Commentary

On the first full day of Passover, the Trump Administration offered several lessons about institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Joshua Matz

Publisher

The Muslim Ban: Answering Tough Questions About Motive

4/21/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The opinion by then-Justice Rehnquist in Hunter v. Underwood (1985), a case about denying the right to vote for racist reasons, offers thoughtful answers to many of the hardest questions that you might ask about motive and the Muslim Ban.

Richard Primus

University of Michigan Law School

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer: Dodging on the Playground

6/28/17  //  Commentary

The votes in this case mask very deep divisions on the Supreme Court about Religion Clause and federalism principles.

Ira C. Lupu

George Washington University Law School

Robert W. Tuttle

George Washington University Law School

Versus Trump: Trump Versus Anti-Discrimination Laws (with guest Joshua Matz)

12/7/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week’s episode of Versus Trump, Charlie, Jason, and Easha are joined by Take Care publisher Joshua Matz to talk about the Masterpiece Cake Shop oral argument, plus the status of Muslim Ban litigation and the future of Take Care.

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Jason Harrow

Equal Citizens

A Different View of Why the Muslim Ban Violates the Establishment Clause

4/20/17  //  Commentary

A diverse group of leading constitutional law scholars—representing many different views about the Establishment Clause—has filed an amicus brief challenging the Muslim Ban. Here's what you need to know.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Corey Brettschneider

Brown University

Micah Schwartzman

University of Virginia School of Law

Nelson Tebbe

Brooklyn Law School

The Costs of Conscience and the Trump Contraception Rules

3/6/18  //  Commentary

The Constitution prohibits the government from accommodating religious practices when doing so entails undue hardship to third parties

Micah Schwartzman

University of Virginia School of Law

Nelson Tebbe

Brooklyn Law School

Richard C. Schragger

UVA School of Law

The World Is Not Made Brand New Every Morning

3/20/17  //  Commentary

Judge Kozinski thinks that we cannot account for President Trump's campaign statements in the Muslim Ban cases. That is wrong. Courts can, and should, reckon with this history in assessing whether Trump's ban comports with religious neutrality.

Jonathan Taylor

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Fifth Circuit Ruling Threatens LGBT Rights & Religious Freedom

7/17/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Fifth Circuit his reversed a preliminary injunction against HB 1523, Mississippi's unusual anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law. Its reasoning is incorrect and at odds with precedent. En banc review is warranted to establish uniformity in the law and vindicate important constitutional principles.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

SCOTUS Travel Ban Argument Post-Mortem and the Surprising Relevance of Korematsu

4/25/18  //  Commentary

Korematsu holds that in a case like this one the obligation to strictly scrutinize invidiously discriminatory policies remains even when the government asserts a facially plausible national security justification.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Mitch Landrieu and the Anti-Denigration Constitution

5/25/17  //  Commentary

Mitch Landrieu’s speech defending the removal of Confederate war monuments in the heart of New Orleans is an eloquent reminder that the Constitution forbids acts that subordinate or denigrate, whether in the context of religion, LGBT rights, or racial equality.

Richard C. Schragger

UVA School of Law

Micah Schwartzman

University of Virginia School of Law

Nelson Tebbe

Brooklyn Law School

Updates | The Week of April 24, 2017

4/30/17  //  Daily Update

The Administration sought an extension to negotiate over the Affordable Care Act's birth control provisions, and it hired a State Department spokesperson who has a history of anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The Draft Religious Liberty EO

3/27/17  //  Daily Update

A leaked draft of the Administration's proposed executive order on religious liberty.

Take Care

Updates | The Week of April 17, 2017

4/23/17  //  Daily Update

"Big data" may already provide the necessary technology to create a Muslim registry covertly.

Updates | The Week of May 1, 2017

5/7/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump released a new religious freedom executive order to widespread criticism and concern.

Take Care

Updates | The Week of May 8, 2017

5/14/17  //  Daily Update

Analysts argue that President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty advances his discriminatory agenda.President Trump’s executive order on religious liberty advances his discriminatory agenda.

Updates | The Week of April 3, 2017

4/9/17  //  Daily Update

Joshua Matz offered analysis of a Mississippi "religious freedom" law on Take Care, while a DoJ memorandum "gives new emphasis to combating religious hate crimes."