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Distinguished Prof. Robson Comments on Recent Religious Freedom Laws

April 2, 2015

Distinguished Professor Ruthann Robson was quoted in a recent VICE News article, “How Hobby Lobby Paved the Way for the Current Rush of Religious Freedom Laws.”

Fifteen states across the country are considering following Indiana’s lead and passing specific “religious freedom” laws. Indiana recently passed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but there are a lot of concerns that that his new law could allow discrimination against LGBT people.

The federal government passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993, in response to a case in which an Oregon Native American man had been prosecuted for using peyote in a religious service.

Professor Robson thinks that the current rush of religious freedom laws is related to the Hobby Lobby decision in 2014 and the widespread acceptance of same sex marriage that has prompted conservative states to action.

“There is a perceived need for it on the basis of some religious groups, because of the popularity of same sex marriage and then the power that the Supreme Court gave a similar law in Hobby Lobby vs. Burwell.”

She also cautioned about the application of these new laws, noting that if the bills pass, large questions loom about how they will be enforced — including what counts as a “substantial burden” on a person or company’s religious practices.

“It seems fairly like the federal law, but it’s always about how it’s going to be applied.”

Read the article


Distinguished Professor Ruthann Robson

Professor Robson is the author of Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy (2013), as well as the books Sappho Goes to Law School (1998); Gay Men, Lesbians, and the Law (1996); and Lesbian (Out)Law: Survival Under the Rule of Law (1992), and the editor of the three volume set, International Library of Essays in Sexuality & Law (2011). She is a frequent commentator on constitutional and sexuality issues and the co-editor of the Constitutional Law Professors Blog.  She is one of the 26 professors selected for inclusion in What the Best Law Teachers Do (Harvard University Press, 2013).


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