Incidental Burdens on First Amendment Freedoms

Notre Dame Law Review Reflection, Vol. 96, No. -- , 2021

23 Pages Posted:

See all articles by Charles F. Capps

Charles F. Capps

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Date Written: October 1, 2020

Abstract

This term, the Supreme Court will revisit the question when, if ever, the Free Exercise Clause requires exemptions to neutral laws of general applicability. This Essay proposes an answer that is based on the idea—which this Essay labels the “Principle of Consistency”—that the First Amendment requires comparable levels of protection for speech and religious exercise. Other scholars applying the Principle of Consistency have discussed the implications of United States v. O’Brien, which prescribed intermediate scrutiny for incidental burdens on speech, for the problem of free-exercise exemptions. But no one has discussed the implications of two lines of cases in which the Court has applied strict scrutiny to incidental burdens on speech—NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson and its progeny, and Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees and its progeny—for the problem of free-exercise exemptions. This Essay argues that, together with O’Brien, these two lines of cases support a regime in which incidental burdens on religious exercise trigger intermediate scrutiny, unless they take the form of interference with a religious institution’s selection of its ministers (the “ministerial exception”) or pressures on a person to violate her religious conscience (the “conscience exception”), in which case they trigger strict scrutiny.

Keywords: Free Exercise Clause, religious liberty, law and religion, conscience, First Amendment, constitutional law

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Capps, Charles F., Incidental Burdens on First Amendment Freedoms (October 1, 2020). Notre Dame Law Review Reflection, Vol. 96, No. -- , 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=

Charles F. Capps (Contact Author)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ( email )

111 S 10th St
Saint Louis, MO 63102
United States

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