Categories: Constitutional Law
Instructor(s) Althouse, Ann
This course covers the Free Exercise and Religion Clauses of the Constitution.
The goal is to understand how courts — especially the Supreme Court — develop doctrine from these few simple words of text, the historical context, and the practical need to coordinate the strong interests of minorities and individuals with the preferences of the democratic majority. This process of interpretation is typical of constitutional law but unusually difficult to resolve when the subject is religion, so students are offered an opportunity to go deeply into a narrow area of subject matter and to stretch their powers of
understanding the evolution of doctrine and the struggle courts have in determining their role protecting the liberty and autonomy of individuals and recognizing the power of majorities to use government to enforce their
preferences (which might include propagating religion, excluding religion, and protecting religious minorities).