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Fall 2022 Reading Group

Democracy and the Role of Religious Beliefs

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

This reading group seeks to explore the appropriate relationship between the religious beliefs of the participants (voters) in a democracy and the laws and regulations adopted by governmental bodies, particularly in the context of the dual commitments to democratic processes and separation of church and state. Voters, and hence legislators and legislatures, act out of a wide array of reasons, including moral beliefs, personal relationships and economic impact. To what extent can voters and legislatures impose specific prohibitions and requirements on others deriving from their own religious beliefs, even when they might not constitute the governmental establishment of a religion or the interference with the religious beliefs and practices of others,? Is it appropriate to disfavor religious motivations of specific regulatory requirements or prohibitions? How far ought the establishment clause be applied to attempts to implement particular religious views in legislation? Apart from constitutional issues, how ought individual citizens and their representatives think about these issues? The reading group will focus primarily on issues in the U.S. context, but also look to other nations for comparative perspective.

Note: This reading group will meet for six sessions, starting on October 25.

PLEASE NOTE: Add/Drop will open for returning 2Ls and 3Ls on Monday, August 8th at 10:00AM.  Registration for LLM and JD Transfer students will take place during the regular registration process.