Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause

Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause

Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause

Church-State Constitutional Issues: Making Sense of the Establishment Clause

Synopsis

This volume explores the often-debated and always topical issue of the relationship between church and state as outlined in the First Amendment. Drakeman takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the meaning of the establishment clause, demonstrating how the studies of law, religion, history, and political science provide insight into this relationship which, since the nation's inception, has been difficult to define. These viewpoints combine to offer a new interpretation of the establishment clause, marking the work as a valuable tool toward further understanding of this complex issue.

Excerpt

Taxonomists responsible for classifying all living things within the appropriate genus, species, phylum, and kingdom divide themselves into two groups--lumpers and splitters. As the names suggest, lumpers tend to look for ways to group various plants or animals together while their less-inclusive colleagues split the flora or fauna in question into many more categories. in the church-state taxonomy, I tend to be a lumper, dividing the spectrum of opinions on these issues into two kingdoms--the strict separationists and the accommodationists (into which I lump the "nonpreferentialists"). This method of classification may not do justice to the array of positions voiced in establishment clause cases, but it should suffice as a shorthand method of describing the principal participants in church-state debates.

The Supreme Court's reliance on the Founding Fathers' intent has made the establishment clause's background fertile ground for argumentative excavation, with strict separationists and accommodationists alike wielding their historical picks and shovels in search of support for their favored interpretations. the weight of current authority, both judicial and in terms of sheer volume, seems to lie with the strict separationists. Their number includes the vast majority of the Supreme Court justices in twentieth- century establishment clause cases as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Leonard Levy and influential constitutional lawyer Leo Pfeffer. Their motto is "wall of separation," and their theme is perhaps most . . .

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