This Response to Professors Levin, Jacobs, and Arora’s article, To Accommodate or Not to Accommodate: (When) Should the State Regulate Religion to Protect the Rights of Children and Third Parties?, focuses on their claim that the law governing religious exemptions to medical neglect is messy, unprincipled, and in need of reform, including because it violates the Establishment Clause. I disagree with this assessment and provide support for my position. Specifically, I summarize and assess the current state of this law and its foundation in the perennial tussle between parental rights and state authority to make decisions for and about the child. Because these are featured as examples in their work, I also summarize and assess the current state of the law on vaccinations and male circumcision. I conclude with some thoughts on Levin, Jacobs, and Arora’s provocative suggestion that the law governing religious exemptions to medical neglect (as reformed according to their terms) might provide a template for addressing other accommodation claims such as those of religiously-motivated opponents of gay marriage.
August 16, 2016