Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Pres. Obama has nominated Prof. Chai Feldblum to be a member of the EEOC (thanks to Prof. Friedman for the link). This article of hers, "Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion", might be of interest. She concludes:
[W]e gain something as a society if we acknowledge that a law requiring individuals to act in a certain way might burden some individuals’ belief liberty. Such an acknowledgement is necessary if we wish to be respectful of the whole person. Protecting one group’s identity liberty may, at times, require that we burden others’ belief liberty. This is an inherent and irreconcilable reality of our complex society. But I would rather live in a society where we acknowledge that conflict openly, and where we engage in an honest dialogue about what accommodations might be possible given that reality, than to live in a society where we pretend the conflict does not exist in the first place.
But in dealing with this conflict, I believe it is essential that we not privilege moral beliefs that are religiously based over other sincerely held core, moral beliefs. Laws passed pursuant to public policies may burden the belief liberty of those who adhere to either religious or secular beliefs. What seems of paramount importance to me is that we respect these core beliefs and do the best we can in this imperfect world of ours to protect both.
It seems to me that the existence of the Free Exercise Clause provides at least *some* reason for "privileg[ing]" beliefs -- or, I would say, specially accommodating -- when we are dealing with this particular conflict.