Religion Clauses and the First Amendment
Course Number: LAW 6930 Credits: 1
This compressed course offers an introduction to the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These provisions, referred to as the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, are the first rights enumerated by the Founders in the Bill of Rights, and they form the constitutional basis of religious liberty in the United States. This course will first explore the historical and jurisprudential foundations of both Clauses and then address the contours of the provisions as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court, asking how and why the Court’s analysis has evolved. The course will also touch upon statutory causes of action that are closely related to the Religion Clauses, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The goal of the course is to understand the original meaning of the Clauses, their development throughout American history and the Court’s jurisprudence, and to examine potential doctrinal directions of the pressing issues in the religious-liberty field of litigation.