The panel will focus on the proliferation of requests for religious accommodation or exemptions from non-discrimination laws over the past several years both in the United States and other Western democracies, and legal responses to those requests. In particular, and of increasing importance to the LGBTQ community in the United States, the Supreme Court is due to consider the scope of religious accommodation in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia next term, where one of the questions presented in the petition for certiorari is whether to revisit Employment Division v. Smith (which held that neutral, generally applicable laws — like non-discrimination laws — do not warrant strict scrutiny for purposes of a free exercise / religious accommodation challenge). The decision could have far-ranging consequences across the entire swath of non-discrimination laws and ordinances across the country, and has the potential to eviscerate protections for LGBTQ people. The panel will contrast this with the approach in other countries, including Canada, where the Canada Supreme Court decided the Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University case eighteen months ago, holding essentially that the non-discrimination aspects of law school license regulations could not be overcome by requests for a religious exemption for Trinity Western. Legal decisions relating to these topics from Australia, Europe, and other western democracies will also be compared and contrasted to the American approach, in the hope that the audience will gain valuable and practical arguments to use in American courts when confronting situations in which LGBTQ persons are threatened by the expansive demands for religious accommodation from non-discrimination laws.
Speakers: Marci Hamilton (University of Pennsylvania); Robert Leckey (McGill University, Faculty of Law); Jesse Ryan Loffler (Cozen O'Connor); Fred Smith Jr. (Emory University)
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