Editor's note

Next week the Supreme Court will hear a case regarding a Denver bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple citing his religious belief that marriage can take place only between a man and a woman. As religious studies scholar David Mislin points out, while religious freedom has been idealized as promoting harmony and equality, this hasn’t really been the case. In fact, the religious freedom debate in America has often created “shifting categories of winners and losers.”

In the meantime, today the high court takes up the case of an armed robber who argues that the FBI invaded his privacy by tracking his cellphone location information without a warrant. H.V. Jagadish, a data scientist and data ethicist at the University of Michigan, explains how the case will affect the privacy of every American who owns a cellphone – no matter what the justices decide.

And staying on Capitol Hill, the Republican plan to “reform” the U.S. tax code continues to dash through Congress, with the Senate scheduled to vote on a version this week. While most Americans believe the system is “rigged” to favor some over others, the GOP plan can hardly be called real reform, argues University of Michigan tax expert Stephanie Leiser. It would do nothing to improve the system’s perceived fairness, she writes.

Kalpana Jain

Religion + Ethics Editor

Top stories

The wedding cake on display at Masterpiece Cakeshop. AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

The messy reality of religious liberty in America

David Mislin, Temple University

Americans have idealized religious freedom and imagined that it brings harmony. But, history suggests it might, in fact, have led to more conflict.

How much can your cellphone reveal about where you go? pathdoc/Shutterstock.com

An armed robber's Supreme Court case could affect all Americans' digital privacy for decades to come

H.V. Jagadish, University of Michigan

Should police be able to use cellphone records to track suspects – and law-abiding citizens?

Protesters shout their disapproval of the Republican tax bill on Capitol Hill. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Taxpayers want more fairness. GOP plan to 'reform' the tax code doesn't deliver

Stephanie Leiser, University of Michigan

Far from dispelling the notion among Americans that the system is 'rigged' against them, Republican tax plans are more likely to make matters worse.

Science + Technology

Politics + Society

Economy + Business

  • An ethical guide to responsible giving

    Ted Lechterman, Stanford University McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society

    Before you reach for that checkbook or give to a charity online, pause to think about what makes a cause good in the first place.

Environment + Energy

Arts + Culture

Health + Medicine

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Today’s quote

Each volcano, like each individual person, has its own unique 'personality.' [One] might not show an increase in earthquake strength but instead display an increase in elevation as magma swells beneath its surface – just as air filling a balloon causes it to increase in size.


Each volcano has unique warning signs that eruption is imminent

Tracy K.P. Gregg

University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Tracy K.P. Gregg