Curriculum Guide · Courses
Law and Religion Seminar: Accommodating the Liberty of Conscience
Professors Lederman and Kessler
J.D. Seminar 1138 | 3 credit hours
Should a health care professional be able to refuse to deliver services or medicines they deem to be immoral, such as abortion or birth control pills? Should laws permitting same-sex unions include accommodations for businesses and government officials to be able to refuse to participate in the union? Should parents who object to public school curricula on grounds of faith be allowed to selectively withdraw their children from particular classes or curricular assignments? What is the moral and legal sources of such “rights of conscience"? In this seminar, we will examine the theoretical arguments about conscience-based claims to exemption from legal obligation in moral and political theory, theological ethics, and legal theory, and we will study the works of recent theorists concerning the wisdom and viability of conscience-based exemptions in the law. We will also explore the historical and recent landscape of legal cases and proposed legislative schemes involving conscientious objector status, medical services (e.g., abortion, sterilization, fertility, removal of life support), homeschooling and same-sex marriage.
Note: Students MAY take this seminar and Church-State Law Seminar. Note: This seminar requires a paper. Students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.