W&L Law Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson has been invited to invited to comment on Gerry Bradley’s new book, Challenges to Religious Liberty in the 21st Century. Her comments will be part of an October 24 event at the The Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. This invitation comes in connection with Professor Wilson’s forthcoming article entitled The Calculus of Accommodation: Contraception, Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, and Other Clashes Between Religion and the State, which will be published in the Boston College Law Review in a few weeks.
Professor Wilson’s Article, which is available for download on SSRN, considers a burning issue in society today — whether, and under what circumstances, religious groups and individuals should be exempted from the dictates of civil law. The “political maelstrom” over the Obama administration’s sterilization and contraceptive coverage mandate is just one of many clashes between religion and the state. Religious groups and individuals have also sought religious exemptions to the duty to assist with abortions or facilitate same-sex marriages. In all these contexts, religious objectors claim a special right of entitlement to follow their religious tenets, in the face of equally compelling claims that religious accommodations threaten access and may impose significant costs on others. Legislators and other policymakers have struggled with how to advance two compelling, and at times conflicting, values — access and religious liberty. This Article examines, and responds to, a number of “sticking points” voiced by legislators about a qualified exemption for religious objectors that would permit them to step aside from facilitating same-sex marriages so long as no hardship will result. These concerns bear an uncanny resemblance to reasons why some believe the Obama administration should not yield further on the coverage mandate. Professor Wilson’s Article maintains that religious accommodations qualified by hardship to others can transform what could be a zero-sum proposition into one in which access and religious freedom can both be affirmed.
W&L Law Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson recently commented on the legal considerations relating to cohabitation by unmarried couples. Her comments appeared in Essence Magazine and addressed what such couples need to keep in mind when it comes to children, health matters, property & assets, and inheritance issues.
To view Professor Wilson’s discussion, click here.
Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University School of Law. A specialist in Family Law and Health Law, her research and teaching interests also include Insurance and Biomedical Ethics. Professor Wilson is the editor of four volumes: Health Law and Bioethics: Cases in Context (with Sandra Johnson, Joan Krause and Richard Savor, 2009); Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008) (with Douglas Laycock and Anthony A. Picarello);Reconceiving the Family: Critique on the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and the Handbook of Children, Culture & Violence(Sage Publications, 2006) (with Nancy Dowd & Dorothy G. Singer). Her articles have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, theEmory Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, and the San Diego Law Review, as well as in numerous peer-reviewed journals.
Every year, the faculty at W&L Law convene to share current scholarship and provide feedback to one another. Last week, seven faculty presented their papers and invited discussions, criticism, and suggestions for improvement. The presenters were as follows:
- Josh Fairfield: “Virtual Currency: How to Print Money for Fun and Profit”
- Aaron Haas: “The Marginalization of Religious Persecution in U.S. Asylum Law”
- James Moliterno: “Lawyer Regulation and Innovation”
- Robin Wilson: “Calculus of Accomodation”
- Doug Rendleman: “The Last Tour of Calabresi and Melamed’s Cathedral You Need to Take”
- Michelle Drumbl: “Decoupling Marriage and Taxes: Beyond Innocence and Income Splitting”
- Tim Jost: “The Affordable Care Act Litigation”
In the post, which can be read in its entirety here, Professor Wilson discusses the Greek Family Law reforms that, among other things, abolished the practice of allowing Sharía law to govern family matters for a Muslim enclave of over 110,000 living in Western Thrace. Before this change, fundamentalist religious rules were given the force of law by delegating jurisdiction to religious groups to decide family disputes, with nominal State oversight. Under Islamic law, if a wife wanted a divorce, she “must compensate her husband for the termination of the marriage … by returning the dower … and by waiving her right to alimony or even her right to the custody of the children.” If the husband did not agree to the divorce, the wife could terminate the marriage only for important reasons pertaining to the husband’s fault. This led to many women remaining trapped in a non-function marriage.
Professor Wilson also touched upon this practice, which occurs in Great Britain. There are currently has eighty-five Sharía courts operating within its borders, affecting its more than 1.5 million Islamic residents. These Islamic tribunals capitalize on Great Britain’s Arbitration Act, pursuant to which the judgments reached in binding arbitration are civilly enforced.
Prof. Wilson ultimately concludes that the movement to introduce religious fundamentalism into the family can have dire consequences for women and children who are deserving of the State’s protection, as Greece recognized this week.
In the post, which can be read in its entirety here, Professor Wilson discusses the constitutional challenges presented by Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown) and Windsor v. United States and that they leave little doubt that a U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is inevitable. She recognizes that every state that has passed same-sex legislation has afforded religious protections for those who do not wish recognize gay marriage. She argues that a decision from the Court, no matter which way it should fall, should take care to accommodate individual states’ legislation.
The post can be found here.
Professor David Millon, the J. B. Stombock Professor of Law and Law Alumni Faculty Fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law, was named president-elect of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) at its recent annual meeting. Millon will serve in this position during 2011-12 and will become president of the organization for the 2012-13 term.
Started in 1947, SEALS is comprised of 65 institutional member schools, 23 affiliate member schools and several foreign member schools. The primary activity of the organization is an annual legal conference held during the summer at a family-friendly venue. SEALS just completed its 64th annual meeting, which was attended by more than 500 scholars, the largest attendance in the history of the conference.
W&L Law faculty are very active within SEALS. This year Professors Christopher Bruner, Johanna Bond, Mark Drumbl, Jim Moliterno, Tim MacDonnell, Joshua Fairfield, and Robin Wilson all joined distinguished panels to present their research. In addition, John Keyser, Associate Dean for Administration and Technology, presented on teaching empirical methods, outcome measurement compliance and was also named chair of the conference technology committee.
The full press release can be found here.
Last Tuesday, April 26, Professor Robin Wilson, the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law, was a panelist for a New York City Bar forum, titled “Reconciling Rights: Balancing Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Civil Rights with First Amendment Religious Protections.”
Professor Wilson discussed marriage rights, including her proposal for religious exemptions that she presented to the Maryland Legislature during testimony. Her co-panelist at the event was Maryland senator Jamie Raskin, who sponsored a Bill that embraced the idea of exemptions and adopted some of Professor Wilson’s proposals. Prof. Wilson also described the proposed exemptions, addressing why she believed the exemptions are needed, how she saw them operating, the impact they would have on gay and lesbian couples, and the impact they might have on other types of couples who might be subject to religious objections, like interracial couples or interfaith couples.
Congratulations to Professor Wilson.