San Diego Law Review

Document Type

Is Religion Outdated (as a Constitutional Category)?


I do not believe that religion is an obsolete constitutional category. But I do believe that the holdings in United States v. Seeger and Welsh v. United States, the Vietnam-era draft cases that extended conscientious objector status to individuals invoking nonreligious claims, were correct. Can I consistently embrace both propositions? I think I can. My argument, in brief, is that religion is indeed special. But when we understand what it is about religion that warrants both distinctive privileges and distinctive burdens, we will see that some other systems of belief track these features of religion closely enough to warrant comparable treatment. Still, religion is the exemplary core of the genus of such beliefs.

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Religion Law Commons