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American Constitution Society Conference

  • Capital Hilton Washington, D.C. (map)

Wilson will be a panelist at this event, titled "Religious Freedom v. Anti-Discrimination Laws: Can Rights Be Reconciled?" presented by the American Constitution Society and moderated by Mark Joseph Stern.

Increasingly, religious liberty claims seem in conflict with reproductive and LGTBQ rights, and these conflicts are being litigated in courthouses, legislatures, and the public discourse. While courts have generally rejected religious liberty challenges to laws protecting LGBTQ rights, the country still awaits the Supreme Court’s decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop. And, as Hobby Lobby illustrates, the Court has already accepted religious liberty challenges to laws protecting women’s reproductive rights. When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enacted in 1993, it was supported by a coalition of civil rights groups that included those advocating for the rights of women and LGBTQ Americans. But now it seems those alliances have broken down, as RFRA and its state counterparts are used to seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious objectors’ assertions that compliance with the law would make them complicit in what they view as the sinful conduct of other citizens. What are the contours of the asserted rights at stake, and can—or should—we attempt to reconcile them? If exemptions are to be available to those who object to abortion, contraception, and marriage equality, on what principle would exemption claims based on beliefs about race be distinguished from claims based on beliefs about sexuality and gender? Is there a constructive way through this thicket?