In recent years, courts in both the United Kingdom and the United States have confronted high-profile controversies pitting religious freedom claims against equality laws. These cases have highlighted some of the common challenges facing lawmakers and courts in recognising and limiting conscience rights. Yet many of these challenges long predate the current controversies, and the two jurisdictions have travelled different constitutional, statutory, and doctrinal paths to this point. This talk aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of how the law of religious accommodations and exemptions has developed in each country and it revisits a question about religious liberty that St John Robilliard posed 35 years ago: Whether "what the American constitution provides as a matter of law is found in Britain as a matter of convention".
Jim Oleske is a professor of U.S. constitutional law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Prior to joining the academy, Jim served as Chief of Staff in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs during the first two years of the Obama Administration. Earlier in his career, he practiced labor law as an appellate attorney for a federal agency.
Jim's scholarship focuses on the intersection of religious liberty and other individual rights. As a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Cardiff University's Centre for Law and Religion, he is currently researching similarities and differences in how UK and US law treats claims for religious exemptions.