Kent Greenawalt, Defender of the Faith

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  • April 5, 2017

Koppelman reviews Kent Greenawalt’s book, Exemptions: Necessary, Justified, or Misguided?, which aims “to explore the complexity of many concerns about [religious] exemptions and implicitly encourage those on opposite sides of particular controversies to recognize, and perhaps even acknowledge, that competing considerations do carry some weight.” Koppelman calls the book “deliberately unhelpful with respect to broader questions that weigh on the minds of many,” namely, “[w]hy is it fair, as a general matter, to single out religion for special treatment,” and “what general principles should or courts follow if they are going to devise exemptions on an ad hoc basis?” As a result, he calls the book “an important but incomplete defense of exemptions,” and his review thus offers “an account of the missing principles inferred from what Greenawalt does say.” Koppelman starts by examining Greenawalt’s specific arguments for exemptions, before taking up the question of whether it is fair to give religion special treatment, and concludes by considering the problem of how to determine substantial burdens on religion.