HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Adam J. Kolber: "Alternative Burdens on Freedom of Conscience"

Adam J. Kolber, Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School posted "Alternative Burdens on Freedom of Conscience" on SSRN:

Adam_kolber We sometimes exempt people from generally applicable laws when compliance would violate their rights of conscience. In “The Significance of Conscience,” Kent Greenawalt discusses a variety of issues about the proper scope and subject matter of claims of conscience. He argues that we should generally give nonreligious claims comparable treatment to religious claims but argues further that there are special reasons to accommodate religious claims that ought to factor into our deliberations.

In this brief comment, I discuss Greenawalt’s analysis and propose a method to avoid differentiating between religious and nonreligious claims, at least in many contexts. I describe “alternative burdens” that can be imposed on those who make claims of conscience that increase the likelihood that their claims are made sincerely and, if granted, are subsequently perceived as fair. The proposed approach makes it generally irrelevant whether a claim is founded on religious or nonreligious reasoning. (This comment was written for the University of San Diego School of Law Symposium, “Freedom of Conscience: Stranger in a Secular Land.”)


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