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Rethinking the Original Meaning of the Establishment Clause

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Abstract:

This paper considers the three leading “originalist” constructions of the Establishment Clause: “strict-separationism,” “non-preferentialism,” and federalism. It reviews the Supreme Court’s attempts to apply the Framers’ intentions in leading Establishment Clause cases. Finding fault with these efforts, the article attempts to ascertain the original meaning of the Establishment Clause by interpreting it in light of the historical and political context in which it emerged. That effort reveals that the First Federal Congress intended primarily to address fears that emerged from ratification politics, and not to constitutionalize one proper relationship between church and state. Those who drafted the Establishment Clause meant neither to erect a “wall of separation” nor to allow federal “non-preferential” aid to religion. The Framers sought, rather, to codify the Constitution’s federal arrangement that denied the national government jurisdiction regarding religious establishments and, thereby, to safeguard State sovereignty over such matters. The essay has potentially sweeping implications for contemporary jurisprudence. It reveals that “non-preferentialist” and “strict-separationist” approaches to church-state matters fail to live up to their claims by misinterpreting the original meaning of the Establishment Clause. It identifies federalism as the most accurate interpretation of the Establishment Clause’s original meaning.

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establish (212), religion (157), state (136), claus (133), religi (121), justic (108), virginia (103), madison (103), mean (87), constitut (87), amend (86), origin (86), federalist (80), id (77), author (73), first (71), congress (70), propos (70), right (67), govern (59), would (57),

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Establishment Clause, Religion, Religious Liberty, First Amendment, Religious Freedom, James Madison
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Name: American Political Science Association
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Munoz, Vincent. "Rethinking the Original Meaning of the Establishment Clause" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p61852_index.html>

APA Citation:

Munoz, V. , 2004-09-02 "Rethinking the Original Meaning of the Establishment Clause" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p61852_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper considers the three leading “originalist” constructions of the Establishment Clause: “strict-separationism,” “non-preferentialism,” and federalism. It reviews the Supreme Court’s attempts to apply the Framers’ intentions in leading Establishment Clause cases. Finding fault with these efforts, the article attempts to ascertain the original meaning of the Establishment Clause by interpreting it in light of the historical and political context in which it emerged. That effort reveals that the First Federal Congress intended primarily to address fears that emerged from ratification politics, and not to constitutionalize one proper relationship between church and state. Those who drafted the Establishment Clause meant neither to erect a “wall of separation” nor to allow federal “non-preferential” aid to religion. The Framers sought, rather, to codify the Constitution’s federal arrangement that denied the national government jurisdiction regarding religious establishments and, thereby, to safeguard State sovereignty over such matters. The essay has potentially sweeping implications for contemporary jurisprudence. It reveals that “non-preferentialist” and “strict-separationist” approaches to church-state matters fail to live up to their claims by misinterpreting the original meaning of the Establishment Clause. It identifies federalism as the most accurate interpretation of the Establishment Clause’s original meaning.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 56
Word count: 18099
Text sample:
Rethinking the Original Meaning Of the Establishment Clause Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz Department of Political Science & Public Administration North Carolina State University vpmunoz@ncsu.com 919.519.7258 Abstract This paper considers the three leading "originalist" constructions of the Establishment Clause: "strict-separationism " "non-preferentialism " and federalism. It reviews the Supreme Court's attempts to apply the Framers' intentions in leading Establishment Clause cases. Finding fault with these efforts the article attempts to ascertain the original meaning of the Establishment Clause by interpreting
an explicit guarantee of federalism to govern church-state matters. In his Everson opinion Justice Rutledge stated "No provision of the Constitution is more closely tied to or given content by its generating history than the religion clause of the First Amendment." Since Everson no provision of constitutional jurisprudence has been more misinterpreted or given false constructions under the framework of "originalism" than the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. To the extent that the Supreme Court has struck down state legislation


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Do the Religion Clauses Guarantee States' Rights? The Evidence from the First Few Decades after their Drafting

Constitutional Religion Clauses and State Religion Policy: Are the Two Correlated?

Constitutional Religion Clauses and State Religion Policy: Are the Two Correlated?


 
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