Compelled speech claims, which arise under the Free Speech Clause, and complicity claims, which usually arise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), are structurally similar. In each case, an individual claims that the government is forcing her to participate in a particular act that violates her religious or moral beliefs and imperatives, sending a false and undesired message to others and causing a form of spiritual or dignitary harm. It is therefore no surprise that compelled speech claims are often raised together with complicity claims in cases where religious individuals challenge the application of generally applicable laws to themselves. In analyzing compelled speech claims, courts and commentators have often considered whether the purportedly compelled message is likely to be perceived as the speech of the objecting individual. In the complicity context, by contrast, courts and commentators generally have not considered whether the problematic act can reasonably be attributed to the individual claimant. Nor do they generally consider whether the individual claimant can take steps to disassociate from the act. This Article argues that the concepts of attribution and disassociation, if applied in the compelled speech context, should also be applied in the complicity context. It also attempts to demonstrate how an analysis of these concepts might proceed in complicity cases. Alternatively, if these concepts fit poorly in the complicity context, they should be rejected in the compelled speech context for the same reasons.
compelled speech, free speech clause, First Amendment, RFRA, complicity, free exercise
97 Indiana Law Journal 913 (2022)
Hill, B. Jessie, "Look Who's Talking: Conscience, Complicity, and Compelled Speech" (2022). Faculty Publications. 2146.