Rejecting the Obama Administration’s argument that the First Amendment requires identical treatment for religious organizations and secular organizations, the Supreme Court held such a “result is hard to square with the text of the First Amendment itself, which gives special solicitude to the rights of religious organizations.” (Hosanna-Tabor, 565 U.S. at 189). This “special solicitude” guarantees religious freedom from the government in all aspects of society, but particularly on public university campuses. At a minimum, religious expression and religious organizations must have equal rights with secular expression and secular organizations. In some instances, religious expression and religious expression may have greater rights. The Court’s 2020 decisions in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, reinforce and expand the “special solicitude” of religion. Indeed, Espinoza and Our Lady have profound implications for student religious groups at America’s public campuses. This article examines religious freedom at America’s public universities. This article has three parts. First, it offers an overview of religious freedom prior to Espinoza and Our Lady. Second, it briefly discusses those two cases. Third, it explores the implications of those decisions on America’s public campuses.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Thro, William E., "Special Solicitude: Religious Freedom at America’s Public Universities" (2021). Office of Legal Counsel Staff Publications. 1.