In the fall of 2015 this course will focus on law, rights and religion and will be conducted in a mixed format; part seminar, part advocacy practicum. Early sessions of the course will cover the basic law of religious liberty under the U.S. constitution’s First Amendment and relevant statutes. Once familiar with this doctrine students will take on research projects related to emerging issues in law, rights and religion. These projects will involve students in research and advocacy on cutting edge controversies related to the balance between religious liberty and other rights, such as marriage equality, sexual orientation, sex and race discrimination, and reproductive rights. These projects will relate to the legal and political contexts in which religion or conscience are used to carve out exceptions to otherwise universally binding rights of equality and sexual liberty. Research/advocacy projects will include: analysis of state constitutional law where Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs) are being introduced; analysis of the racial impact of religion-based refusals of service in the health care context; development of strategy to address the perceived threat that religious liberty is under threat; the relevance of religion/conscience based exemptions in the military and vaccination context to the interpretation of the federal and state RFRAs more generally; and formulation of alternative language to that included in proposed state RFRAs.
Students in the seminar will learn the deep structure of religious liberty law and policy on the federal and state levels and will gain skills in advocacy, legislative analysis, and the strategies and tactics used in developing both reactive and proactive interventions in this critical set of issues.
Enrollment in this seminar is with the professor’s permission only. Students interested in taking the seminar must submit no later than August 15, 2015 an application to Professor Franke (email@example.com) setting out their interest in this subject and whether they have had any experience studying or working on law and religion.