Book Review: Separation Anxiety: The End of American Religious Freedom?
Constitutional Commentary, Forthcoming
22 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2014 Last revised: 4 Dec 2014
Date Written: April 1, 2014
This is a review essay on Steven D. Smith's new book The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom. In this review, I consider the uses of history in Religion Clause jurisprudence and question the need for deep origins in excavating the origins of the American principles of separation of church and state and freedom of conscience. Subsequently, I evaluate Smith’s argument that the Supreme Court ended the golden age of American religious freedom when it put a thumb onto the scale and transformed religious freedom questions and answers into hard constitutional law. I argue that these decisions are as responsible for the remarkable religious pluralism that exists in American society today as much as for the contemporary secular extremism that Smith deplores. In the last part of the essay, I pose a brief account of history and judicial review as two technologies of constraint with a particular view to the upcoming consolidated cases before the Supreme Court.
Keywords: Religion Clauses, First Amendment
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation