Tag: Religion

A New Approach to Nineteenth-Century Religious Exemption Cases

Wesley J. Campbell

In Employment Division v. Smith (1990), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment does not afford individuals a right to receive exemptions from neutral and generally applicable laws that incidentally burden their exercise of religion. Although Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, the Court’s decision came without any discussion… Read More »

Salazar v. Buono: Sacred Symbolism and the Secular State

Ian Bartrum - Drake Law School

After oral argument, Salazar v. Buono looked like it might be a dud.  As Adam Liptak observed in the New York Times, the Justices spent most of their energy pressing then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan and her opponent, Peter Eliasberg of the ACLU, on the case’s tangled procedural history, and “only… Read More »

Of Christmas Trees and Corpus Christi: Ceremonial Deism and Change in Meaning Over Time

& B. Jessie Hill

Lately, it seems that the Supreme Court has taken a strong interest in the question whether, and under what circumstances, religious speech and symbolism are constitutionally permissible in government-sponsored settings. Last Term, in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, the Supreme Court considered whether a city had to allow the Summum religious… Read More »

Constitutional Agnosticism, Religious Pluralism, and the Problem of Community

Steven D. Smith - University of San Diego School of Law

The American Constitution, we are told, is a “godless” document. More precisely, it is an agnostic document; it nowhere makes any reference, whether affirming or denying, to God.  So what?
Some scholars see in this agnostic quality a constitutional mandate for governmental secularism; indeed, they may appeal directly to the agnostic… Read More »

The Case for a Constitutional Easement Approach to Permanent Monuments in Traditional Public Forums

Paul E. McGreal - Southern Illinois University School of Law

Imagine that you are mayor of a small town that has a picturesque public park, where your residents come to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To make the space inviting, you have built a gazebo, a picnic area, and a playground.  You have also allowed a local… Read More »

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