Using a comparative method, this article explores the reasons for the absence of a legal ban on Muslim headscarves in the United States. Study of France reveals a culture that values "public space" and "citizenship." The United States places more value on the generic concept of "religion" as the unifying bond among individuals, even of different religious groupings. Cross-religious sympathy is a distinctive feature of American culture and reflected in legal briefs to the Supreme Court. The article suggests that legal concepts are not merely reflections of social institutions but are important social facts in themselves.