The Born-Again Champion of Conscience (Book Review)

17 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2015 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015

Date Written: January 22, 2015


A review of Robert P. George's "Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism."

Professor George, once a skeptic of religious-exemption rights, now demands their unprecedented expansion. Part I of this Review details how, prior to the debates over same-sex marriage and Obamacare, Professor George rejected the type of presumptive exemption rights he now treats as essential to protecting conscience. Part II then dispels the myth, ironically perpetuated by George, that liberals have fundamentally changed their position on religious-exemption rights. The truth is, most liberals continue to support what they have supported since Justice Brennan authored Sherbert v. Verner five decades ago: religious-exemption rights for individuals and religious organizations. What liberals are opposing today is the unprecedented expansion of exemption rights to commercial businesses, something never countenanced by the Court prior to Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Keywords: Free Exercise, Religious Liberty, RFRA, Conscience Rights, Same-Sex Marriage, Obamacare, Contraception, Hobby Lobby, Holt, Exemptions, Culture Wars

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Oleske, Jr., James M., The Born-Again Champion of Conscience (Book Review) (January 22, 2015). 128 Harvard Law Review Forum 75 (2015), Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-5, Available at SSRN:

James M. Oleske, Jr. (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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