Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Using the metaphor of a constitutional conversation to compare the treatment of a relatively new and unpopular religion by the legal systems of the United States, Russia, and Spain, this Article examines the methodology by which laws affecting religion are made and enforced. It uses as a case study the interaction of the Jehovah's Witnesses with the legal system of the United States, comparing it with more recent interactions in Russia and Spain. The Authors argue that while the experience in the United States was profoundly influenced by a common-law methodology, the experience in two civil-law countries, Russia and Spain, even after the advent of constitutional courts, remains somewhat distinct. The more structured conversation in Russia and Spain may result in more predictable rules and efficient enforcement, but the complex and dynamic U.S. conversation may allow religious minorities greater voice.