Church-State Relationships in America

By Gerard V. Bradley | Go to book overview

Bibliographical Essay

The bibliographical innovation of this book is not the exhumation and careful inspection of hitherto forgotten or ignored sources, dusty tomes that unexpectedly shed bright light on a familiar subject. Rather, it is the organization of more or less familiar sources into a discussion firmly grounded in a (hopefully) coherent theory of constitutional lawmaking. Because the chapter notes exhaustively identify the sources reviewed and relied on, reiteration here would be wholly gratuitous. Two examples of the innovation, however, deserve note. Ben Perley Poore Federal and State Constitution of the United States (two volumes, 1972) is a well-known, reliable compilation. Better-kept secrets are the laws of the thirteen original states, which are now more accessible to researchers due to the ongoing editing project of John D. Cushing. Cushing has so far provided edited versions of the legal corpus of all the important states save Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Used in conjunction, these sources should reveal the standard definition of many terms used in the U.S. Constitution since that document, and more so the Bill of Rights, relied most heavily on the post-Revolutionary state constitutions for its lexicon, idiom, and grammar.

Besides descriptions of the state legal regimes, another underused source of federal constitutional meaning resides in the Articles of Confederation era, where (unlike the product of the Poore-Cushing partnership) the gems are not so much the laws passed but the lawmakers passing them. The records of the Confederation Congress reveal the public position of a majority of the Constitution's framers on a host of important national political issues, church-state prominently among them. The Journals of the Contintental Congress should be read with Jack N. Rakove's masterly political history, The Beginnings of National Politics ( 1979).

A roadmap to further exploration of the constitutional law of church-state, and its everburgeoning scholarly commentary, is perhaps the most useful aspect of a critical guide to further reading. The starting point is the case law since 1947 and (unless one is prepared

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