Emory International Law Review


Joel A. Nichols


This Essay briefly illustrates the descriptive deficiency in typical discussions about family law, especially relating to religious citizens, and also describes new possible pathways and developments. Because this Symposium is focused on Sharia, Family, and Democracy: Religious Norms and Family Law in Pluralistic Democratic States, this Essay particularly draws on examples from Islam. Part I outlines tensions faced by members of both minority and majority religious communities, who view their family issues as controlled by both their religious community and by the demands of the civil state. Part II explores possible paths ahead for the intersection of religious beliefs and civil law on marriage and divorce in the United States. The Essay then offers some concluding reflections.