The Catholic University of America

CUA Law professor Mark Rienzi published an article entitled "Symposium: Gay rights, religious liberty and … tire scraps? The inclusive Fourteenth Amendment path in Trinity Lutheran," on SCOTUSblog.  See below. 

Symposium: Gay rights, religious liberty and … tire scraps? The inclusive Fourteenth Amendment path in Trinity Lutheran

From: SCOTUSblog
Date: August 12, 2016
Author: Mark Rienzi

It is tempting to think of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley as a welcome respite from the recent spate of hot-button religious liberty cases that prompt concerns from the gay rights community (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Zubik v. Burwell) and hot-button gay rights cases that prompt concerns from the religious liberty community (Obergefell v. Hodges). After all, this case is about a mundane topic that would seem to have nothing at all to do with either sex or religion: resurfacing children’s playgrounds with recycled tire scraps.

But it turns out this case is even better than a mere respite; it is an opportunity. Precisely because the case concerns an otherwise uncontroversial topic, it offers a chance for cooler heads on all sides to observe something important about gay rights and religious liberty: they need not be in conflict. In fact, the closest precedent for the kind of discrimination against religious groups at issue in this case is not a First Amendment religious liberty case, but rather a Fourteenth Amendment gay rights case, Romer v. Evans.

By resolving this case on equal protection grounds under Romer, the Justices can make clear that there is no inherent conflict between gay rights and religious liberty. To the contrary, the same broad conception of individual liberty at work in the Court’s gay rights cases can, if fairly applied to all people, provide important protections for religious liberty as well.


Click here to read the full article. 

Mark Rienzi  

Professor Mark L. Rienzi's
Areas of Expertise

Religious Liberty

Free Speech


Fourteenth Amendment

For additional information about our professors' areas of speciality, see the Catholic University Experts page.