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Constitutional Law

Selected Works

2013

First Amendment

Elizabeth A. Clark

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Religions As Sovereigns: Why Religion Is "Special", Elizabeth A. Clark Feb 2013

Religions As Sovereigns: Why Religion Is "Special", Elizabeth A. Clark

Elizabeth A. Clark

Commentators increasingly challenge religion’s privileged legal status, arguing that it is not “special” or distinct from other associations or philosophical or conscientious claims. I propose that religion is “special” because it functions metaphorically as a legal sovereign, asserting supreme authority over a realm of human life. Under a religion-as-sovereign theory, religious freedom can be understood as at least partial deference to a religious sovereign in a system of shared or overlapping sovereignty. This Article suggests that federalism, which also involves shared sovereignty, can provide a useful heuristic device for examining religious freedom. Specifically, the Article examines a range of ...