Free Exercise Clause and child support obligation
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Mon Aug 14 13:17:23 PDT 2006
I'm afraid I can't do much to explain strict scrutiny on the
list -- many tomes have been written on the subject; you might start
with a good short book (say, the Nutshell) on the Religion Clauses. Nor
is the matter quite one of "conscience" rather than "religion"; given
Yoder, the Free Exercise Clause applies only to religious objectors, but
given Thomas, the religious belief need not be one that's shared with a
broader group. The burden is on the plaintiff to show sincerity, but my
sense is that courts are usually reluctant to find the person insincere
unless there's pretty strong evidence of that (and the mere convenience
of his beliefs ought not by itself be enough).
> Good points, Eugene. So conscience is the key here, not
> necessarily religious believe. How does one prove sincerity
> of belief--is it the government's responsibility to disprove
> sincerity of belief, or is it the plaintiff's responsibility
> to prove sincerity? I'm ignorant of "strict scrutiny"; I'm
> understanding that Washington State provides for individual
> cases in its constitution, and make exceptions?
The Washington Constitution's religious freedom clause has been
interpreted by Washington courts to follow the Sherbert/Yoder strict
> I'm still not convinced that Sherbert applies here: Again,
> I'll plead ignorance of the case--did the plaintiff have
> children to support? Frankly, I know I'm working this
I don't think this matters; Sherbert was herself being supported
by the unemployment insurance, even though her reason for not working at
the jobs which she could fine was religious, and even though the state
argued that supporting her religiously-motivated unemployment would
violate the Establishment Clause.
> backwards. I believe that regardless of sincere religious
> conviction, a parent (regardless of
> gender) should be not be relieved of the burden of financial
> responsibility to their child. I'm thinking that should a
> parent choose to take a vow of poverty, they should be
> required to perform community service in lieu of child
> support. Give back to the community that is supporting their child.
> If that parent's right to strict scrutiny is being denied, by
> all means, that needs to be rectified.
> Jean Dudley.
> And thank you for educating me so far.
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