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Aseret Had'Varim in Tension: The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights


Mark William Osler


University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

July 15, 2007

Journal of Church and State, Vol. 49, p. 683, 2007

Abstract:     
This essay describes the way in which the Ten Commandments and the Constitution are in conflict: It is in large part the Bill of Rights which bars the Ten Commandments from serving a functional role in American criminal law. For example, the First Commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me") cannot become a part of the criminal law because of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion.

This simple observation unsettles the shibboleth that The Ten Commandments are a foundation of American law, and challenges the presentation of the two as companion documents.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 26

Keywords: constitution, bill of rights, ten commandments

JEL Classification: K14, K19

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Date posted: April 26, 2007 ; Last revised: January 26, 2010

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, Aseret Had'Varim in Tension: The Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights (July 15, 2007). Journal of Church and State, Vol. 49, p. 683, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=982617

Contact Information

Mark William Osler (Contact Author)
University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )
MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
(254) 717-7032 (Phone)

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