The Roberts Court and the Transformation of Constitutional Protections for Religion: A Statistical Portrait
Supreme Court Review
27 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 3, 2021
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
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