Thursday, June 24, 2021
Here is a short piece of mine, at the First Things site, on the Court's recent Fulton decision. A bit:
[T]here is no getting around the fact that—not always, but sometimes—a “win” in a religious-accommodations case is also a kind of loss. Although most religious-exemption requests do not involve moral challenges to the law in question, some do, and CSS’s does. That is, CSS needs an exemption in order to do its important and generous work because its understanding of marriage and family has been rejected officially.
Most religious exemptions requests do not involve hot-button moral questions or “social issues.” They seem easier to navigate, because the political authority is being asked to incur some cost or inconvenience, or to sacrifice a bit in terms of efficiency and uniformity, but not to abandon an orthodoxy. Increasingly, though, as the understanding of the public interest in preventing invidious discrimination has expanded—for example, to requiring Catholic health-care institutions to perform abortions—exemptions requests are taking on a different character, and are seen as threatening to progressive commitments. Fulton is hardly the end of the matter.