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When Religious Practices Become Legal Obligations: Extending the Foreign Compulsion Defense

44 Pages Posted: 30 May 2007 Last revised: 3 Mar 2008

Michael A. Helfand

Pepperdine University School of Law

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to fashion a religious compulsion defense as an outgrowth of the legally recognized foreign compulsion defense. Contra the rationale advanced in Employment Division v. Smith, the article argues that the rationale behind the foreign compulsion defense - to protect individuals from conflicting legal norms of competing legal systems - should also apply to situations where religious law and United States law collide. In adopting the criteria of the foreign compulsion defense, a religious compulsion defense would extract individuals from conflicts of law, protecting individuals in the throes of the most intractable of dilemmas.

Keywords: Religion, Conflict of Laws, Legal Theory

JEL Classification: K00, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Helfand, Michael A., When Religious Practices Become Legal Obligations: Extending the Foreign Compulsion Defense. Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 23, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=980808

Michael Helfand (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States

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