In this lecture, Professor Smith argues that religious exemptions are unjustified in theory and corrosive in practice. By splintering the ultimate sovereignty of a legal system, they fracture its integrity and undermine its ability to fulfill its mission.
In making her case, Smith considers some of the most frequently offered arguments on behalf of exemptions (including the appeal to First Amendment text) but explains why they fail to vindicate them.
Religious freedom? Yes. Religious exemptions? No.
By focusing on the basic function of the legal system, Smith shows how standing permission for some people to violate generally applicable laws is both inimical to that system’s efficacy and an abuse of its authority.