Selective Support of Religious Liberty

bob at bob at
Sun Mar 11 21:34:11 PDT 2012


Thanks for sticking up for minorities, including nontheists. I was
co-counsel with Mike Newdow in Newdow v. Roberts (challenging the infusion
of religion into presidential inaugural ceremonies). I don't recall Mike
ever telling me of any offers of support. I didn't receive any.

Summum is a bit awkward. I initially told the E.D. at the American Humanist
Association that it should side with Summan -- as a matter of equality
(with the Fraternal Order of Eagles 10C monument). But within 24 hours I
realized my mistake. And I filed an amicus in support of neither party --
asking that permanent monuments be classified as government speech. The
ultimate goal was to prevent the Summum monument from being place in
Pioneer Par and subsequently have the Eagles 10C monument declared a
violation of the Establishment Clause. When CJ Roberts asked Jay Sekulow to
"pick his poison" during oral arguments, I thought that the scenario I
mentioned would be the final result. I asked Brian Barnard (Summum's
attorney) about that and he told me that Summun did have an Establishment
Clause count in its complaint but not for the removal of the Eagles
monument. F.Y.I. I did file a 10th circuit amicus supporting Brian's client
in the Utah crosses case.

Robert V. Ritter
Jefferson Madison Center for Religious Liberty
Falls Church, VA

On March 4, 2012 at 7:16 AM Marty Lederman <lederman.marty at>

> dedicated thread:  The phenomenon is hardly unique to the evangelical
> movement.  Doug is of course correct that there are many lawyers and
> others, evangelical or otherwise, who do great work on behalf of religious
> liberty "for all."  I am increasingly concerned, however, that the majority
> of self-professed religious liberty allies, who worked so well and
> sensitively together on matters such as RFRA and RLUIPA, are distressingly
> selective when it comes to their solicitude for the religious liberty (and
> equality) of nonmajoritarian religious observers.  I am thinking, in
> particular, of the rather deafening lack of objection (on this list and in
> public), resources, amicus support, etc., in high-profile cases such as
> Simpson v. Chesterfield County (as clear a case of unjustifiable religious
> discrimination as one can imagine -- and one in which it was impossible to
> round up any support for amicus participation); Summum; Hernandez; most
> conspicuously and egregiously, the Park51/Cordoba House controversy; and, I
> would add, Newdow.  The list could go on.
> There are, of course, exceptions -- very important exceptions.  (See, e.g.,
> Doug's own superlative brief in Newdow; AJC's amicus support in Hernandez)
> And I realize that every case has its own idiosyncracies and contested
> predicates.  Still, I find myself increasingly dubious about whether the
> religious liberty "coalition" includes many who are truly dedicated to
> religious liberty, broadly speaking.
> I realize this is a sensitive and complex topic.  And if it results
> primarily in acrimony here, I offer my apology in advance.  But it seems to
> have been lurking beneath the surface of many cases discussed on this list
> over the past few years, and therefore I thought perhaps it warrants its
> own discussion, not least because I would love to be persuaded that my
> suspicions and disappointments are unwarranted.
> On Sat, Mar 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM, Douglas Laycock < dlaycock at
> <mailto:dlaycock at> > wrote:
> > going only to one person. So let me
> > provide more context for the comment.
> > 
> > Of course there are many tolerant people in the evangelical movement,
> > including lawyers who do great work on behalf of religious liberty for all.
> > They understand that religious liberty is not safe for anyone unless it
> > protects everyone. But there are many others, whose work is dedicated to
> > issues other than religious liberty, who have not thought about these
> > issues
> > and have not gotten that message. In my 25 years in Texas, I met and worked
> > with and read reports of the comments of many evangelicals who were
> > comfortable with diversity and tolerant of Jews and Muslims, and of many
> > others who were not. And all I meant to say was that folks from the second
> > group seem to be in control of the Texas Association of Private and
> > Parochial Schools.
> > 
> > Douglas Laycock
> > Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law
> > University of Virginia Law School
> > 580 Massie Road
> > Charlottesville, VA  22903
> >     434-243-8546 <tel:434-243-8546>
> > 
> > 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: religionlaw-bounces at
> > <mailto:religionlaw-bounces at>
> > [mailto: religionlaw-bounces at
> > <mailto:religionlaw-bounces at> ] On Behalf Of Douglas Laycock
> > Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2012 11:26 AM
> > To: 'Law & Religion issues for Law Academics'
> > Subject: RE: Basketball tournaments on the Sabbath
> > 
> > This morning's story in the Times confirms the unreconstructed Texans
> > theory. It looks like the conservative evangelical schools have taken
> > control of this organization, and tolerance of diversity has never been one
> > of their strengths.
> > 
> > Douglas Laycock
> > Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law University of Virginia Law
> > School
> > 580 Massie Road
> > Charlottesville, VA  22903
> >     434-243-8546 <tel:434-243-8546>
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