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8 - The First Amendment Religion Clauses in the United States Supreme Court

from Part II - Historical Interpretations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2019

Michael D. Breidenbach
Affiliation:
Ave Maria University, Florida
Owen Anderson
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
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Summary

This chapter examines the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark First Amendment religious liberty cases to show how the judiciary has come to terms with the disputes that arise over religious liberty. The religion clauses are often seen as upholding the concept of individual rights and defending religious liberty against religious majoritarianism. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the religion clauses often belies this perception. This chapter demonstrates that the religion clauses largely epitomize majoritarianism. That is, rather than protecting religious minorities, the scope and protection of the religion clauses reflect both the trajectory of the Supreme Court’s broader constitutional rights jurisprudence, as well as the wider political landscape, both as it relates to judicial politics as well as contemporary social discourse.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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