Kennedy, Carson, and Dobbs:
Law and Religion in Pressing Supreme Court Cases


A Canopy Forum Thematic Series
July- August 2022

On June 30, 2022, the United States Supreme Court marked the end of its most contentious term in recent memory. We also saw the swearing in of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman elevated to the high court. In light of these events, Canopy Forum is offering this series exploring the intersections of law and religion in relation to these recent cases, most notably Kennedy v. Bremerton School District (prayer in schools), Carson v. Makin (school choice and state funding), and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (abortion access).


“Dobbs Is Not a Religion Case”

Bruce Ledewitz
August 1st, 2022

“I was unhappy, but not surprised, to see Canopy Forum including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overruled Roe v. Wade, in a call for submissions under the rubric, “Law and Religion in Pressing Supreme Court Cases.” I was not surprised because, for years, many critics have labeled pro-life opposition to Roe a purely religious viewpoint. This labelling continued after Dobbs was decided. Eddie Tabash, the Board Chair of the secular Center for Inquiry…” 


“A ‘Revolutionized’ Supreme Court Term”

Steven K. Green
July 29th, 2022

The Supreme Court’s Term in 1991-1992 promised to be highly consequential. Two hot-button issues were on the Court’s docket — abortion and school prayer — and in both cases litigants and amici asked the justices to overturn established precedent. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that precedent was, of course, Roe v. Wade with its famous trimester analysis; in Lee v. Wiseman the precedent was Lemon v. Kurtzman with its infamous three-pronged test…” 


“The Supreme Court Says Conscience is Everything. Or Nothing. It Depends.”

Len Niehoff
July 27th, 2022

“The Supreme Court has long recognized the individual human conscience as sacred territory. One of the most famous expressions of this principle comes from Justice Robert Jackson in the 1943 case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette. He wrote: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess…” 


“Tax Policy: A Sieve Separating the Genuine Pro-lifers from the Fakes”

Susan Pace Hamill
July 25th, 2022

“Labeling themselves “pro-life,” white conservative evangelical Christians waged war against abortion for decades. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court — recently configured in their image — handed them what will ultimately prove to be a Pyrrhic victory.  Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization obliterated a woman’s constitutional right to choose to have an abortion, which was established fifty years ago in Roe v. Wade…” 


“Purity Culture and the Overturn of Roe: Understanding Christian Nationalistic Ideology and its Impact”

Jenny McGrath
July 15th, 2022

In June 24th, the Supreme Court reversed the nearly 50-year-old legal precedent protecting the right to safe abortions in overturning Roe v. Wade. While the outrage and fear this decision caused was widespread, taking many forms, my own mind returned to my 13th birthday. It was the day I received my purity ring. As a young woman raised in evangelical purity culture, in this short, albeit significant ceremony…” 


“What is an Establishment of Religion?”

Vincent Phillip Muñoz
July 14th, 2022

“Though all eyes are understandably focused on whether the Supreme Court will overturn Roe and Casey, the justices will also soon decide a significant establishment clause case. In April, the Court heard oral arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a case involving a football coach at a public high school who lost his job after repeatedly kneeling on the 50-yard line in post-game prayer…” 


“Crisis Pregnancy Centers: How Evangelical Purity Culture Funded Thousands of Anti-Abortion Clinics”

Victoria Houser
July 8th, 2022

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have periodically received attention in mainstream media outlets for their religious affiliations and anti-abortion positions. This past week, Abigail Abrams and Vera Bergengruen released an article in Time magazine outlining the insidious rhetoric these clinics use to attract pregnant people seeking abortions…”