Current Major Projects

Religious ExemptionsSt Nicholas, Islip, June

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom (2014) and the United States (2015), heated controversies have erupted over individual service providers’ (bakers’, florists’, photographers’ and bed and breakfasts’) ability to deny goods and services to same-sex couples who wished to marry. In my work with Iain McLean (below), we have proposed different ways of dealing with these controversies. I am developing these models further and intend to publish a series of articles concerning exemptions for service providers in US and UK law, as well as under the law of other jurisdictions.

Constitutional Entrenchment

The UK constitution is famously  not entrenched; indeed, one of the fundamePalace of Westminsterntal principles of the UK constitution is that Parliament can make or unmake any law whatever. In my recent research I attempt to qualify this principle, not just in terms of the European Communities Act 1972, the Human Rights Act 1998, and devolution to Scotland and Wales, but to ground entrenchment more historically. The UK Supreme Court has labelled certain statutes as ‘constitutional’. What makes them this way? Magna Carta, The Bill of Rights 1688, and the Treaties of Union 1706/07 include language purporting to entrench law permanently. Understanding entrenchment in the UK constitution involves understanding both why these statutes include the language that they do and what implications lawyers can (or should) draw from that language.

Religious Establishment in Britain

I am in the process of re-writing my D.Phil thesis as a monograph. It addressed changes in the constitutional status of the three national churches in the United Kingdom during the period from 1919-1921: the Church Assembly (Powers) Act, 1919; the Welsh Church (Temporalities) Act, 1919; and the Church of Scotland Act, 1921. The status of all three national churches was altered by the post-World War I Lloyd George coalition, but in different ways. The puzzle was to find out why they were different but why all of the changes took place in such a short time. The answer to the first question had to do with the differing internal structures of the churches and the national environments in which they existed; the answer to the second was the sudden change in the price of grain during World War I.


Iain McLean and I have collaborated a great deal since I completed my D.Phil. in 2009.

In 2013 we published a short book on this history of marriage law in the United Kingdom (and beyond). That project has already resulted in a number of blog posts and a submission to the Government Equalities Office in connection with its consultation on same-sex marriage.

Other Projects

Iain and I have written a series of articles, which have been published in law reviews in the United States:

These are primarily concerned with the ongoing debate about the optimal level of church/state integration or separation and the historical roots from which that relationship derives. I have also published individually on the question of religious markets: ‘Rational Choice, Religion and the Marketplace: Where Does Adam Smith Fit In?’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 48(1):186 (2009).

Further Interests

I am interested in:

  • The religious affiliations of members of the UK Parliament during the inter-war period;
  • The abdication of Edward VIII from the throne in 1936; and
  • The application of rational choice methodology to history (amongst other things).
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