Religion and the Law: of Church and State and the Supreme Court

1st Edition

Philip Kurland

Published February 15, 2009
Reference - 128 Pages
ISBN 9780202363042 - CAT# Y352901

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There are few issues as controversial as where to draw the line between church and state. The framers of the Constitution's Bill of Rights began their blueprint for freedom by drawing exactly such a line. The first clauses of the First Amendment provide: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The justices of the Supreme Court have not been wanting for advice from self-appointed guardians. The difficulty with such advice is that the contestants are more convincing when they criticize their opponents' interpretations than when they seek to establish the validity of their own.Religion and the Law examines the actions and words of the Supreme Court in applying constitutional language to the controversies that have come before it. Lest such an effort be reduced to recitation, these cases are measured against a "neutral principle" that will give the most appropriate scope to the religion clauses in such a manner as to provide guidance for legislatures and courts. This neutral principle has been framed in reliance on the Aristotelian axiom that "it is the mark of an educated man to seek precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits."One of the fundamental difficulties with the contemporary discussion of the "hot button" issue has been the failure to distinguish two separable problems: the constitutional issue--in the narrow sense of the meaning to be given to the language of the First Amendment by the Supreme Court--and the broader question of the ideal relationship that should exist between church and state. This is a classic study by one of the great theorists of American constitutional law.


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