Does It Matter that the Constitution Doesn't Say "The Separation of Church and State"?

The phrase "the separation of church and state" is a shorthand description of a much more complicated interpretation of the constitutional text. As such, whether it appears literally in the Constitution's text is not terribly important. What is important is whether this metaphor accurately captures the meaning of the constitutional guarantee of the First Amendment. Full Story »

Posted by Neil R. Anderson
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Posted by: Posted by Neil R. Anderson - Oct 25, 2010 - 8:53 PM PDT
Reviewed by: Neil R. Anderson (review)
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Edited by: Neil R. Anderson - Oct 25, 2010 - 8:55 PM PDT

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Neil R. Anderson
4.3
by Neil R. Anderson - Oct. 25, 2010

Amar and Brownstein, two professors at U.C. Davis, tackle the legitimacy of referring to the well-known Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution as "the separation of church and state." They also expose some of the notable obstacles to both strict constructionist and liberal constitutional interpretive methods.

Amar and Brownstein give an impressive, thorough consideration to the appropriateness of the "separation of church and state" metaphor, as it pertains to the First Amendment. Their reasoning is sound and balanced, rightly focusing on the limits the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses place on government, not religion.

While Amar and Brownstein give tacit approval to the accuracy of the metaphor, finding it to be a relatively fair description of the clauses in ... More »

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