Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Call for proposals for participation in Blog Webinar on October 2, 2020

Call for proposals for participation in Blog Webinar on October 2, 2020

Law, Religion, and Coronavirus in the United States: A Six-Month Assessment


Co-organized by:

International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University Law School

Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University Law School

Notre Dame Program on Church, State & Society, Notre Dame Law School

Center for Law and Religion, St. Johns University School of Law

Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law


Proposals for participation in a blog conference on Law, Religion, and Coronavirus in the United States: A Six-Month Assessment, are being accepted until August 31st, 2020. An online webinar open to the public will be held on Friday October 2, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. EDT where brief 3-5 minute summaries of blog posts of approximately 1500 words will be presented. The blog posts will then be simultaneously published on the blogs of the five co-organizing institutions.

The purpose of the blog conference and webinar is to provide an opportunity for thoughtful reflection on the implications for law and religion in the United States of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the economic and racial justice crises, from our current perspectives approximately six months into the crisis. The content and format of the webinar will in part be determined by the proposals for participation, but we anticipate grouping presentations under several topical areas:

  • Public Health and Free Exercise: What is the scope of legitimate limitations on religious activities based on public health, including discriminatory or differential treatment of religious gatherings versus other types of gatherings? What can we learn from cases that have already been decided, including in the Federal Courts of Appeals, and in the emergency Supreme Court rulings in cases involving religious organizations challenging state regulation? Are there important differences between what religious organizations should be permitted to do and what they should do? Do legal developments during the coronavirus pandemic make it more or less likely that the Supreme Court will revisit the compelling state interest in its Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence?


  • Church Finances and State Funding of Religion: What have been the financial implications of coronavirus for religious institutions, religious schools, and faith-based charities, including participation in government bailout and aid programs? Will the pandemic and its aftermath have lasting effects on how state funding of religion is viewed in the United States and by the Supreme Court?


  • Law and Society: How will the pandemic affect religious practice? Will it act as an accelerant for social trends including the “rise of the nones?” Will it result in a religious recession, renaissance, or something else? Will there be different implications for institutions and individuals?


  • Church Liability and Clergy Malpractice: Will religious organizations, or religious leaders, face personal liability for harm to parishioners who attend services, or follow advice and counsel of religious leaders, and later contract coronavirus? Will we see an increase in liability in tort or based on theories such as clergy malpractice?


  • Science and vaccines: What can we expect from the role of religious organizations and religious people in the debates that will emerge about vaccines and exemptions from vaccines? Are there other implications for religious freedom that will arise from a scientific consensus on public health matters?


  • Long-term implications: From our limited vantage point, what will be the long-term implications of the coronavirus and related crises for law and religion in the United States?


Please submit brief proposals for your participation of approximately 100 words (not completed blog posts) through the “Submissions” page on the Emory’s Canopy Forum by August 31st, 2020, (https://canopyforum.org/submit/). Please indicate in your submission that you are responding to this call for proposals, either in the subject line of the submission form, or in the document you submit.  We anticipate informing participants during the first week of September whether their proposal has been accepted for inclusion. Blog posts will be due one week before the webinar so they can be edited and ready for posting upon completion of the webinar. We are pleased to offer an honorarium of $200 for the blog post of each participant in the webinar.

If you have any questions, please contact Brett G. Scharffs, [email protected] or Jane Wise, [email protected], at BYU; John Bernau, [email protected], Shlomo Pill, [email protected], or Justin Latterell, [email protected], at Emory; Stephanie Barclay, [email protected] or Rich Garnett, [email protected], at Notre Dame; Mark Movsesian, [email protected], or Marc DeGirolami, [email protected]; or Michael Moreland, [email protected], at Villanova.

August 18, 2020 | Permalink

Friday, August 14, 2020

Program on Church, State & Society Announces Student Writing Competition

The Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School is pleased to announce a writing competition on topics and questions within the Program’s focus. This writing competition requests student-authored scholarly papers and will honor winners with cash awards. The purpose of this writing competition is to encourage scholarship related to the intersection of church, state & society, and in particular how the law structures and governs that intersection.

Competition eligibility and deadlines.

August 14, 2020 | Permalink

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Cardinals, World Religious Leaders: ‘We Stand With the Uyghurs’

The Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs is “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust,” two Asian cardinals and 74 other religious leaders wrote in a statement released Aug. 8.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia, were among the 76 signatories calling for “prayer, solidarity and action to end these mass atrocities” against the Muslim minority in China.

Full article at the National Catholic Register.

August 12, 2020 | Permalink

Friday, August 7, 2020

Religious freedom and the Roberts court’s doctrinal clean-up

Those who think and write about the Supreme Court, including many of the justices themselves, tend to collect and deploy colorful adjectives and epithets to describe the state of its religion clauses doctrine and case law. It is not necessary to go full-thesaurus or to march out the entire parade of pejoratives here. A “hot mess” was the recent pronouncement of one federal court of appeals. And my own favorite is still Justice Antonin Scalia’s 1993 portrayal of the so-called “Lemon test” as a “ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad after being repeatedly killed and buried.”

An important part of the Roberts court story, though, is that it has both continued and facilitated developments-for-the-better in law-and-religion. Chief Justice John Roberts, following in several ways the example and path of his predecessor, William Rehnquist (for whom he and – full disclosure – I clerked), has directed, not merely endorsed or observed, these changes. The standard, habitual denunciations no longer seem to apply. As Larry David might put it, the law of the religion clauses is actually “pretty, pretty good.”

Full article by Richard Garnett at SCOTUSblog.

August 7, 2020 | Permalink

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Scenes From a Revolution? After Bostock

Many people worry that the Supreme Court’s decision last month in Bostock v. Clayton County heralds a social revolution. In three cases decided together on June 15, the Court held that the Title VII ban on “sex” discrimination in employment includes discrimination on account of homosexuality and “transgender” status. Because our legal culture already adjusted to same-sex relationships (including civil marriage, per the Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges), the worry now is mainly about the “transgender” half of Bostock. Will it lead straightaway to coed restrooms? What does Bostock portend for girls’ and women’s athletic competitions? For doctors and hospitals who refuse to mutilate healthy tissue in alleged “sex-change” operations? For mandatory use of a worker’s preferred pronoun? 

Full essay by Gerard Bradley at the National Catholic Register.

August 4, 2020 | Permalink