Basketball tournaments on the Sabbath
VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Sun Mar 4 14:17:32 PST 2012
I wonder whether "religious liberty" is exactly the right term here, where we're talking about access to a privately provided program, and one that is hardly essential for life or livelihood. The question isn't just whether Orthodox Jews are free to live as good Orthodox Jews, or even are free to get broadly available benefits of the welfare state that are important to survival (such as unemployment compensation). Rather, the question is whether other private parties should adapt their behavior -- their exercise of their own liberty -- to accommodate Orthodox Jews' felt religious obligations. That's an interesting question, and the answer might well be that they should so adapt their behavior, if it's a low-cost adaptation, out of hospitality or kindness or application of the Golden Rule or some such. But I think that talk of "liberty" here is not very helpful.
From: religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [religionlaw-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Alan Brownstein [aebrownstein at ucdavis.edu]
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2012 12:33 PM
To: Law & Religion issues for Law Academics
Subject: RE: Basketball tournaments on the Sabbath
I don't view these issues as absolute "Yes" or "No" questions. I think tournament organizers should take the religious beliefs of participants into account, but there will be situations where the cost to others of particular accommodations will be too high for the requested accommodation to be granted.
Some accommodations are relatively low cost. If two semi-final games are going to be played Saturday afternoon and evening, why shouldn't the organizers accommodate the needs of a religious school's team that observes Saturday as the Sabbath and schedule their game for the evening rather the afternoon? Some rejections of accommodations create unnecessary burdens for religious schools. In the Oregon litigation I referenced earlier, the tournament organizers refused to allow the Adventist School's team to play in any tournament games unless they would commit to playing every game scheduled even if it fell on the Sabbath.
Other harder cases may involve higher costs. Even here, however, sometimes there may be creative solutions that mitigate burdens or spread costs. If we value religious liberty and are concerned about the exclusion and isolation of religious minorities, we should take accommodation problems seriously -- although that does not mean that the accommodation will always be granted.
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