The Roberts Court and the Transformation of Constitutional Protections for Religion: A Statistical Portrait

Supreme Court Review

27 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by Lee Epstein

Lee Epstein

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: April 3, 2021

Abstract

The Roberts Court has ruled in favor of religious organizations far more frequently than its predecessors—over 81% of the time, compared to about 50% for all previous eras since 1953. In most of these cases, the winning religion was a mainstream Christian organization, whereas in the past pro-religion outcomes more frequently favored minority or marginal religious organizations. A statistical analysis suggests that this transformation is largely the result of changes in the Court’s personnel: a majority of Roberts Court justices are ideologically conservative and religiously devout—a significant break from the past. We also explore other possible explanations.

Keywords: supreme court, religion, first amendment, free exercise

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Lee and Posner, Eric A., The Roberts Court and the Transformation of Constitutional Protections for Religion: A Statistical Portrait (April 3, 2021). Supreme Court Review, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3825759

Lee Epstein

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

HOME PAGE: http://epstein.wustl.edu

Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/

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