Unconstitutional for deeply religious people to be legislator
VOLOKH at mail.law.ucla.edu
Fri Jun 30 11:39:43 PDT 2000
Mark's meta-law would be unconstitutional because it requires courts
to interpret religious doctrine, something that they are quite sensibly
prohibited from doing. In that particular respect, and in a few others, I
agree that the legal system does treat certain religious matters differently
from their secular analogues.
But I really don't see how this can be used to support the notion
that deeply religious people should be essentially disqualified from
legislating on the grounds that their motives for legislating come from
their religious beliefs. There's all the difference in the world, I think,
between keeping judges -- whatever their religion or religiosity -- from
having to decide as part of a legal test certain questions ("What is the
true meaning of Christian doctrine?") and relegating religious people to
what seems to me to be a sort of second-class citizenship.
Mark Graber writes:
> Professor Volokh writes, in part: " It seems
> that you're saying that legislation based on the enactors' deeply held
> religious views about, say, the impropriety of abortion or homosexuality
> slavery or race discrimination is unconstitutional; but legislation based
> their deeply held Kantian views, feminist views, Marxist views, or
> else would be perfectly constitutional.
> This seems like a truly radical discrimination against religious
> people, one that I find it hard to see the First Amendment allowing, much
> less mandating."
> I'm not so sure. I take it would be constitutional for a legislature to
> pass the following law or meta-law. All ambiguities in this law (or any
> law) should be interpreted consistently with the principles set out in
> Kant's philosophy (or feminist philosophy). I take it that the
> legislature could not declare that "all ambiguities in this law (or any
> law) should be interpreted consistently with the principles set out by the
> Christian Bible. Now the analogy is hardly perfect. But it is rather
> clear that the first amendment does privilege secular government outputs
> in this sense. The question is how far down that privileging goes.
> Mark A. Graber
> mgraber at gvpt.umd.edu
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Religionlaw