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Ketanji Brown Jackson on Religious Freedom

Any time someone is nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice, people of faith are intensely interested in how this person will understand and protect their free exercise of religion. And analyses of Ketanji Brown Jackson’s approach on this issue have begun to spring up.

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer at the National Catholic Register concludes that on religious liberty issues Jackson’s “record is not encouraging.” But while Picciotti-Bayer asks several important questions about how Jackson will rule, ultimately she provides little reason for concern.

On the other side, Michael Helfand at the Canopy Forum concludes, “Her engagement with questions of law and religion, for now, seem the kind of balls-and-strikes decisions you would expect from a federal judge.” He cites decisions from her in 2014 and 2017 in favor of religious freedom, and ultimately concludes that there is no reason that American Jews should be worried about her approach to religious freedom.

Before her nomination, Tanner Bean looked at the religious freedom approaches of Biden’s short list including Jackson for us here at Public Square. For Jackson, Bean looked at the same cases Helfand does, but also looks extensively at her public comments during her last judicial confirmation, including that “religious freedom is a foundational tenet of our entire government.” Which suggests her statement in her confirmation hearings that freedom of religion is a “foundational constitutional right” may be more deeply felt than performative.

About the author

C.D. Cunningham

C.D. Cunningham is the managing editor of Public Square magazine. After graduating from BYU-Idaho, he studied religion at Harvard University Extension. He serves on the board of the Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association.
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