San Diego Law Review

Document Type



In the end, it seems to me, the matter boils down to a single issue. Many individuals consider themselves bound by two sources of authority, public law and conscience, whose demands do not always coincide. Is the state prepared to take cognizance of this fact, and if so, how should it respond? Unlike other regimes, liberal democracies should not find these questions unduly challenging. To be a liberal state is to recognize limits on the legitimate scope of public authority; to be a liberal democracy is to recognize limits on the authority of the people and on the writ of law enacted by majorities. And it was the clash between civil law and religion that gave rise to the idea of limited public authority. The claims of conscience found, and continue to find, their place within the space this limitation opened up.