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Frank S. Ravitch and I have been finishing up the 4th Edition to our casebook, Law and Religion: Cases and Materials (West Academic, 2021; ISBN 978-1-64708-764-7). The Preface nicely describes our aims for the book:
Each topic in this book begins with a brief narrative discussion of the topic, followed by relevant cases and articles, and finally notes and questions. The goal of the narrative is to provide students with context (the forest) so that they can grapple with the many complex issues that are raised in the cases and articles (the trees). The sections on religious law and comparative law will follow a similar format.
We have tried to add a comparative law element to the study of the jurisprudence of religious liberties in the United States by tying that study to the broader global conversations and currents in the development of legal frameworks for the protection of religious liberty. We hope all of this can be accomplished in ways that are useful for law students not just in the US (though US students are our principal audience) but elsewhere as well.
To enrich the casebook materials Frank and I have started producing a series of video discussions of key cases from the jurisprudence. These may be used by faculty and students to enrich their consideration of the casebook materials or as a springboard to deeper discussion of themes and complications raised in the cases.
For our first conversation we focused on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, 593 U.S. -- (2021), which was decided on 17 June 2021. The case was particularly interesting because at least in some quarters it was viewed as the opportunity to repudiate what is left of the still controversial decision of Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990).
For our next conversation we go back to the germinal case of contemporary U.S. Establishment Clause jurisprudence-- Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Tp., 330 U.S. 1 (1947). "The appellant, in his capacity as a district taxpayer, filed suit in a
State court challenging the right of the Board to reimburse parents of
parochial school students. He contended that the statute and the
resolution passed pursuant to it violated both the State and the Federal
Constitutions." (Majority Opinion ¶ 2). The township resolution at issue authorized reimbursement only for parents of public and Catholic school. In an opinion, the rhetorical flourishes of which are still quoted in the maintenance of the narrative of religious liberty in the United States, a majority of the court concluded that the religious liberties provision of the federal constitution applies to states through incorporation by the 14th Amendment, that the Religion Clauses built a wall of separation between the state and religion, and that this wall remained intact even where the state reimbursed the transport costs of Catholic school students. The dissenting justices agreed generally with the normative position of the majority but insisted that as a consequence transport reimbursement was forbidden. Hovering around these high level abstractions were the germinating doctrines of neutrality, secular purpose and entanglement that would ensnare court jurisprudence for a generation.
The Video recording of this conversation may be accessed HERE.It is also available on the Coalition for Peace & Ethics YouTube Channel HERE.