Making Sense of the Establishment Clause

4 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 22 Sep 2009

See all articles by Jeffrey Shulman

Jeffrey Shulman

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: August 12, 2009


While the jurisprudence of the Establishment Clause may not make much sense (common or otherwise) as a substantive legal matter, it does make sense as a series of jurisprudential maneuvers by which the Court has sought to make more room for religion in civic life. In fact, there is a method to the “massive jumble... of doctrines and rules” that forms the law of church-state relations. It is the method of a somewhat disorderly retreat from the Constitution’s foundational principle of disestablishment. The accommodations made by the Court to religious belief and conduct have allowed for discrimination against non-religion, edging the Court ever closer toward a non-preferentialist perspective.

Keywords: establishment clause, supreme court, jurisprudence

Suggested Citation

Shulman, Jeffrey, Making Sense of the Establishment Clause (August 12, 2009). Engage, Vol. 10, p. 4, 2009, Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 1448116 , Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey Shulman (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics