Analysis and Commentary on Speech and Religion

The Vaccine for Pollyanna Attitudes Toward Public Health and Religious Beliefs: Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations and Medical Neglect Need to Be Repealed Now and the Federal Government (and the Insurance Industry) Need to Incentivize the States to Do So

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton calls upon state legislators to repeal the laws that permit parents to refuse to vaccinate their children to the children’s detriment as well as to the detriment of the public.

The Power and Peril of the Internet: How Should “Revenge Porn” Be Handled?

Hofstra University law professor Joanna Grossman and Stanford University law professor Lawrence Friedman discuss the ways in which legislation can (and cannot) address the phenomenon of “revenge porn.” Grossman and Friedman point out that while the similar offense of blackmail has existed for many years, only recently, with the aid of the Internet, has this new form of harassment become a serious issue for lawmakers to consider.

The Supreme Court Considers “True Threats” and the First Amendment

Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, Elonis v. United States, in which the Court will consider what constitutes a “true threat.” Specifically, Colb considers whether the First Amendment right of free speech prevents criminalization of threatening speech only if the speaker intended to bring about fear of bodily harm or death, or if it is enough that a reasonable person uttering those words would have anticipated they would be interpreted as such a threat.

Supreme Court Preview of Holt v. Hobbs: When in the Era of Extreme Religious Liberty Can State Prison Administrators Enforce Security Needs?

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton discusses a case for which the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next week, in which a Muslim inmate in an Arkansas prison is arguing for the right under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to have a beard, despite the prison’s rule prohibiting beards.

Getting Away With Literary Fraud

John Dean, former counsel to the president, comments on a recent Newsweek story by David Cay Johnston highlighting the noted and untruthful biographer C. David Heymann. Dean explains how the dysfunctional body of First Amendment law has allowed Heymann to get away with publishing many lies and false information about a handful of public figures.

Who Will Protect New York’s Children from Preventable Death and Permanent Disability?

Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton discusses an archaic Orthodox Jewish practice that persists despite putting infants at risk of death or permanent injury. Hamilton describes a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding that strict scrutiny applies to the New York City regulation requiring that rabbis receive informed consent from an infant’s parents before performing the dangerous ritual. Hamilton explains why, in her view, the Second Circuit erred in reaching that decision, and moreover, why current criminal laws should be used to protect children from being exposed to the risk.

Academic Freedom in the Salaita Case

Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf discusses a recent decision by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to revoke an offer to Steven G. Salaita of a tenured faculty appointment after Salaita tweeted strong criticism of Israel’s conduct in Gaza. Dorf explains why the University’s decision presents serious issues of academic freedom and free speech, and even contract law.

The Circle Starts to Close: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Abortion, the Catholic Bishops, and the Satanic Temple

Cardozo Law professor Marci Hamilton comments on a recent move by the Satanic Temple seeking exemption from coercive informed consent laws citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Hamilton describes the Catholic bishops’ apprehension toward the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when it was being considered over twenty years ago and how quickly they got behind it after it passed. Finally, Hamilton describes how clear it is now that RFRA cuts both ways.

Meet our Columnists

Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Co... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington U... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb tea... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Befo... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has w... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School of L... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Pra... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record... more

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more