In Season 2 of Stream of Conscience, we dive deeper into religious liberty to explore its two major components, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. What did the framers of the Constitution mean when they forbade the “establishment” of religion? Who gets to decide what “free exercise” of religion includes? What’s the difference between the two clauses, and how do we argue cases arising under them?
Season 2 also introduces cases that are not strictly religious liberty cases. We’ll talk about how other fundamental freedoms, like the freedom of speech and the right to property, intersect with religious liberty, and why it’s so important to understand these connections as we defend our freedoms.
Free to Foster
In 2018, heroic foster care mothers had to give up their life’s work when the City of Philadelphia forced a 200-year-old Catholic foster care agency to close because of its religious beliefs. This is the story of how Sharonell Fulton, Toni Simms-Busch, and their foster care agency fought for their right to serve vulnerable children and won—unanimously—at the Supreme Court.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
After the City of Ventura, California, asked churches to partner with it to help solve its crisis of homelessness, a small church took the request to heart and made solving the crisis its mission. But no good deed goes unpunished. Years into expanding their homeless ministry, the Harbor Missionary Church suddenly found itself in court opposite the city—and that’s when the Stanford Law School Religious Liberty Clinic stepped in.
Taking Your Land
The government took your land, now what? In this episode, we dive into a case about eminent domain, the Takings Clause, property rights, and court access. Where does religious liberty play a part? It turns out that the property rights of religious groups are especially vulnerable.
What’s in a Name?
When Asian American rock musician Simon Tam started his band, he never guessed it would bring him to the steps of the Supreme Court. But when the federal trademarking office rejected his band’s name, The Slants, saying it was offensive to Asian Americans, it set Simon on a long and frustrating path through the courts. Though it was a free speech case at its heart, Becket weighed in at the Supreme Court to add another layer of consideration—that the trademarking laws were dangerously close to the anti-blasphemy laws the U.S. fights abroad.
The State and the Union
Mark Janus was a public sector employee who became the unlikely namesake of an iconic Supreme Court case, where the Court ruled that private unions cannot force dues on non-members. But what do unions have to do with religious liberty? It hinges on something we call “coercion laundering.”
Why Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
After the City of Boca Raton gave a Chabad a shot at building a new center, a small but hostile group sprang up in opposition. What followed was a classic case of Establishment Clause misunderstanding, something that frequently troubles the courts. Rabbi Ruvi New tells about the East Boca Chabad’s journey to building a better home and the prejudice it encountered along the way.
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