Clamorous Coexistence: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Internal Battle Between Religion and Nondiscrimination Laws

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 8, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

The United States Commission on Civil Rights is a bipartisan, independent federal agency charged with informing the federal government about civil rights issues and the effectiveness of state and federal civil rights initiatives. In September 2016, the Commission issued a report focused on the potential conflict between religious freedom and antidiscrimination laws with regard to sexual orientation and same-sex marriage. That report, titled Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties, consisted of a short report followed by a large number of individual statements by Commissioners. These individual reports show key disagreements between Commissioners in how the issue was approached. This paper critiques the arguments of the Commissioners and the final report and recommends a more civil and thoughtful approach to addressing the apparent conflict. 

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

William & Mary Policy Review Symposium Transcript: Quantitative Analysis Informing Social Justice

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 8, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. This specific article is the transcription of a William & Mary Policy Review symposium, which was convened in 2017. 

The full PDF transcript can be found here

The Many Faces of Secrecy

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 8, Issue 2 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

Political secrecy in the United States has never been more studied—and less understood—than it is today. This irony is due in large part to the slippery nature of the phenomenon: secrecy presents in different guises depending on the area of governmental activity under consideration. In the classified world of the U.S. national security state, secrecy results from affirmative governmental acts designed to enforce a sharp distinction between official and public knowledge. In the outsourced and technocratic worlds of governmental contracting and economic management, secrecy results from quiet acts of exemption of whole areas of decision-making from the normal processes of public scrutiny. Scholars have underestimated the magnitude of the political secrecy that besets American society, and misconceived prescriptions meant to manage it, because they have failed to recognize that they are dealing with the same challenge in different form across multiple disciplines.

This Article attempts to effect, for the very first time, the kind of comparing-of-notes that is needed for a proper assessment of the scope of political secrecy. It introduces a simple yet indispensable typology—direct versus indirect secrecy—that enables us to recognize the many different faces of secrecy. Once we do so we are in a position to realize that we are confronting a systemic secrecy crisis. For various reasons and under cover of conflicting rationales, large swaths of policy-making have been placed beyond the review-and-reaction authority of the American people, to the detriment of even the most humble conceptions of transparency and democracy. 

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Letter from the Editor

Dear readers,

I am excited to announce the publication of our outstanding Volume 8, Issue 2 of the William & Mary Policy Review. This issue covers a range of policy topics, from political secrecy to civil rights law, and quantitative analysis in social justice research and advocacy. 

The first article in this issue features Professor Amy Baker Benjamin, who develops a new way of classifying political secrecy, and uses it to explore the breadth of political secrecy in the U.S. Next we feature Professor Eric Yordy, who offers a critique of the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ report on tensions between religion and antidiscrimination, and offers a better approach. Lastly, we present the transcript of the Review's third annual Spring Symposium,  which features an expert panel discussion on how quantitative analysis can be used in social justice research and policy advocacy. The panel includes Professor Caroline Hanley of William & Mary’s sociology department, Laura Goren, Research Director of The Commonwealth Institute, and Luis Aguilar, an advocate with We Are CASA.

On behalf of the 2016-2017 senior editorial board, I thank the authors, peer reviewers, and the editorial staff of the Policy Review, whose hard work and careful editing made this publication possible. Thanks also go to the William & Mary Program in Public Policy for its ongoing support of the journal. Best of luck to the current staff of the Review, as we look forward to the publication of the first issue of Volume 9.

Sincerely,

Adam Windram

Editor in Chief, 2016-2017