On Religion, the Supreme Court Protects the Right to Be Different

(This op-ed was first published in The New York Times on July 9, 2020.)

Washington, D.C.: Stanford Law Review Reception

Recent decisions are about safeguarding pluralism, not taking sides in the culture wars.

Some Supreme Court watchers have been quick to interpret recent decisions as skirmishes in American “culture wars” — with some decisions (on abortion and sexual orientation) siding with the cultural left and others (on religion) siding with the cultural right.

There is another way to look at them. Viewing the decisions as a whole, rather than one by one, they can be seen not as advancing left or right but instead as protecting pluralism — the right of individuals and institutions to be different, to teach different doctrines, to dissent from dominant cultural norms and to practice what they preach.

(Continue reading the op-ed on The New York Times’ page here.)

Michael McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge, is a law professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School.