Liberalism Versus Liberalism: An Analysis of Muslim-American Amicus Curiae Arguments Concerning Complicity-Based Conscience Claims
25 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2023 Last revised: 27 Sep 2023
Date Written: March 1, 2023
In 2015, Douglas NeJaime and Reva Siegel identified complicity-based conscience claims as a subcategory of religious liberty claims, which feature objections to generally applicable laws based on religious convictions that harm third parties. Here, we observe that Muslim-Americans have filed or joined amicus curiae briefs in support of litigants on both sides of the recent complicity-based conscience cases of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado (2018), Bostock v. Clayton County (2020), and Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (2021).
This divergence of legal views within the Muslim-American community points to a broader rift in society generally toward issues involving the navigation of identity and faith in the context of American liberalism. In this article, we show that opposing arguments by Muslim-Americans in these complicity-based conscience cases presuppose two different conceptions of liberalism: (1) liberalism as the pursuit of broad religious, cultural, and value pluralism (modus vivendi), and (2) liberalism as the pursuit of social cohesion, assimilation, and fraternité among diverse constituencies (vivre ensemble). Muslim-Americans who advance a modus vivendi vision of liberalism base their arguments mainly on the view that Islam and other minority religions involve specific beliefs, doctrines, and moral injunctions regarding, inter alia, rules of personal conduct in society that deserve distinctive legal protections. Muslim-Americans who support a vivre ensemble conception of liberalism prioritize the uniform enforcement of civil rights laws over religion-based objections and, in doing so, seek an overlapping consensus between their beliefs and prevailing conceptions of expansive civil liberties.
Keywords: Liberalism, Islam and liberalism, Overlapping consensus, Modus vivendi, Vivre ensemble, Political liberalism, Free exercise, Complicity-based conscience claims, Amicus curiae
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