June 20, 2019

Toward a Progressive Vision of Religious Freedom

Jason DeSanto

Senior Lecturer, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; Moderator

Katherine Franke

Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Columbia Law School

Hon. William Marshall

Kenan Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law

Melissa Rogers

Visiting Professor, Wake Forest University Divinity School; Nonresident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution

Sirine Shebaya

Interim Legal Director, Muslim Advocates

Providing exemptions from neutral laws for religious objectors used to be at the forefront of the progressive agenda. In fact, the leading case in this area was Sherbert v. Verner, a decision authored by Justice Brennan. Employment Division v. Smith, the case that overturned Sherbert, was written by Justice Scalia. Conservatives have since picked up the mantle of advocating for religious exemptions both under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Free Exercise Clause. How should progressives respond to conservative efforts to reinvigorate what was once progressive doctrine? Should progressives consider using RFRA to advance their own causes, for example, to assert a right to assist undocumented immigrants or to make decisions about their intimate lives? What would a contemporary progressive view of free exercise look like?

View more videos from the ACS 2019 National Convention.