Monday, February 27, 2006
In recent empirical study of judicial decisionmaking, Michael Heise (Cornell), Andy Morriss (Case Western), and I have been exploring religious liberty cases in the lower federal courts. The enduring legal myth is that members of minority religious groups face a decidedly uphill battle in securing accommodation for unconventional religious practices, expression, or values from the courts. According to the conventional wisdom, traditional Christian believers may anticipate a more hospitable welcome from the judiciary when asserting claims of conscience or religious liberty. However based upon our empirical study of religious liberty decisions in the federal courts, the proposition that minority religions are less successful with their claims was found to be without support, at least in the modern era and in the lower federal courts. In fact, counter to popular belief, adherents to traditionalist Christian faiths, notably Roman Catholics and Baptists, appear to be the ones that today enter the courthouse doors at a disadvantage.
For the next week, I will be guest-blogging once daily on the subject of this study and the nature and meaning of the findings at "The Volokh Conspiracy" (volokh.com), identified just last week in the Wall Street Journal as one of the leading legal blogs in the country (hence my great appreciation for being invited by Eugene Volokh to share some ideas on this topic with his readers). I invite "Mirror of Justice" readers to surf over and, after the week is concluded, I may continue the conversation and respond further to comments back here at home on the "Mirror of Justice."