Religion and the Constitution


Course Description

LAW 790-03 Religion & the Constitution (3 credits)

This course examines the First Amendment's Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. The two Religion Clauses have been and continue to be a focus of extensive controversy in the legal and political arenas. The course will examine Supreme Court opinions interpreting the Religion Clauses. Topics arising under the Establishment Clause include prayer in public school classrooms, religious symbols on public property, and government funding of parochial school education. Topics arising under the Free Exercise Clause include the rights of religious objectors to be exempt from a vaccination requirement, the rights of members of a religion to engage in animal sacrifice as part of a religious ritual, and the rights of employees to refuse to work on religious holy days. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses.

The reading material for the course has been prepared by the instructor. The specialized nature of the course subject matter allows students to gain expertise in the area by reading extensively in this one area of constitutional law rather than by surveying a variety of areas. Students can enroll in this course even if they have not taken the required course in Constitutional Law.


Required Reading Material

All Reading Materials will be made available on this website by clicking on the Reading Materials link. Generally, the readings are from a two-volume Religion and the Constitution casebook prepared by the instructor. In addition, supplementary online material will be included in several assignments. The reading materials will be made available as a series of .pdfs to be downloaded and printed by students enrolled in the course.

Course Syllabus Summer 2013


Classroom Materials (other than reading assignments)


Pictures of Ten Commandment Displays

Proposed Summum Monument

Seven Aphorisms of Summum

Religious Symbols on Public Land (pictures of actual displays)

Holiday Displays (pick which ones would be constitutional)

Pawtucket's Creche Shifts to Private Park (by Jeffrey Carmel) (Christian Science Monitor) (October 20,1983)

Photos of Lynch v. Donnelly Display

Endorsement Test

Lemon Test

Parochial School Aid Review

Public Forum Doctrine Outline

Different Versions of Ten Commandments

The Scopes Trial (Tennessee v. Scopes)

Inherit the Wind (1960 film) (plot summary)

Agostini Test

Lemon Test

Standing Under the Religion Clauses

Flast v. Cohen Test

U.S. Constitutional Provisions


Exam Review Materials

How to Improve Your Exam Performance


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