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The Constitutional Politics of the Establishment Clause

31 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2011 Last revised: 16 Sep 2017

Richard Albert

Boston College - Law School; Yale University - Law School; Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho; University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law

Date Written: November 4, 2011

Abstract

In these reflections presented at a Symposium hosted by Duquesne University School of Law on "The Future of the Establishment Clause in Context: Neutrality, Religion, or Avoidance?" I examine the constitutional politics driving the interpretation of the Establishment Clause. I suggest that the Supreme Court’s recent case law on taxpayer standing may signal a return to the founding design of the Establishment Clause. At the founding, the Establishment Clause constrained the actions of only the national government, disabled only Congress from establishing a religion, and vigorously protected the sovereignty of states. Each of these three signposts - national interdiction, congressional disability, and state sovereignty - may yet again soon hold true if the Supreme Court continues on what appears to be its current path toward de-incorporating the Establishment Clause.

Keywords: Establishment Clause, Separation of Powers, Religion, Church and State, Constitutional Politics, Neutrality, Prudential Standing, Nonjusticiability, Flast, Valley Forge, Hein, Winn, Incorporation, Bill of Rights, Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Passive Virtues

Suggested Citation

Albert, Richard, The Constitutional Politics of the Establishment Clause (November 4, 2011). 87 Chicago-Kent Law Review 867 (2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1954809

Richard Albert (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02459-1163
United States
617.552.3930 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.richardalbert.com

Yale University - Law School ( email )

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New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.yale.edu

Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Derecho

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Bogota D.C, Cundinamarca 3456
Colombia

HOME PAGE: http://190.7.110.123/irj/portal/anonymous/fac_derecho

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.utoronto.ca

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah - Radzyner School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 167
Herzliya, 46150
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.idc.ac.il/en/schools/law/pages/home.aspx

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