Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

The Weekly Five

This week’s collection of five new articles from SSRN includes Corinna Lain’s history of Engel v. Vitale, the school prayer case; Anna Su’s review of Steve Smith’s new book on the decline of religious freedom; and pieces on corporate social responsibility in Asia; Christianity and other foundations of international law; and the will to live.

1. John D. Haskell (Mississippi College-School of Law), The Traditions of Modernity within International Law and Governance: Christianity, Liberalism and Marxism. According to Haskell, three traditions constitute “modernity” in international legal scholarship—Christianity, Liberalism, and Marxism. These three traditions differ from one another but also have some similarities. He writes, “my hope is that in studying each tradition, we can find a new synthesis that allows fresh analytical tools to conceive the dynamics of global governance today and how they might be addressed.”

2. Corinna Lain (University of Richmond), God, Civic Virtue, and the American Way: Reconstructing Engel. In this history of Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 Supreme Court decision that struck down school prayer, the author argues that the conventional wisdom has the case wrong. Engel was not an example of the Court’s standing bravely against a popular majority. If the Justices had understood how controversial their decision would be, she maintains, they would not have taken the case to begin with. Instead, Engel demonstrates the power of judicial review in stimulating democratic deliberation on the Constitution—what some scholars call “popular constitutionalism.” She argues that popular antipathy to the decision resulted from misunderstandings provoked by the media.

3. Marvin Lim (Independent), A New Approach to the Ethics of Life: The “Will to Live” in Lieu of Traditionalists’ Notion of Natural/Rational and Progressives’ Autonomy/Consciousness. The author maintains that both traditionalist and progressive justifications for protecting human life are inconsistent and unconvincing. In their place, he argues for an ethic of the “will to live.” What ultimately matters is whether actions respect or violate this ethic. This approach would allow abortion and assisted suicide in at least some circumstances, he says.

4. Arjya B. Majumdar (Jindal Global Law School), Zakat, Dana and Corporate Social Responsibility. In this essay, the author traces the tradition of charity in Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism and explores the relevance of that tradition in corporate law. Especially in Asia, the author says, where corporations have relatively few shareholders and tend to be family or individual operations, religious traditions of charity can play an important role in boosting corporate social responsibility.

5. Anna Su (SUNY Buffalo), Separation Anxiety: The End of American Religious Freedom? This is a review of Steven D. Smith’s new book, The Rise and Decline of American Religious Freedom. Su disagrees with Smith that the Supreme Court’s twentieth-century Religion Clause cases threaten the existence of religious freedom. “These decisions,” she writes, though frustrating and incoherent as they might seem, in fact, are as responsible for the remarkable religious pluralism that exists in American society today as much as for the contemporary secular extremism that Smith deplores.”

ACLU to South Carolina Public Schools: We’re Watching

The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog reports today that, as the new school year begins, the ACLU of South Carolina has sent a letter to public schools in the state reminding them of their constitutional duty to avoid promoting religion:

“It’s important that all students know that they’re going back to school to a place where they will be welcome no matter what they believe,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, in a statement Monday. The group claims to have received numerous reports of religious freedom violations, including complaints that many South Carolina schools impose religion on students.

In response, South Carolina’s education superintendent accused the ACLU of trying to intimidate students from engaging in legitimate religious expression in public places. Sounds like litigation ahead.

 

Green on School Prayer Controversies in the Post-Civil War Period

This month, Steven K. Green, Frank H. Paulus Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of History at Willamette University (and director there of the interdisciplinary Center for Religion, Law & Democracy) publishes The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford University Press).  While we are well acquainted with school prayer controversies of our day, Professor Green traces the “school question” as far back as the post-Civil War years—between 1863 and 1876—when similar controversies, he argues, were already at the forefront of national attention.

See Oxford University Press’s description after the jump.

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Resistance to Abington v. Schempp

The Supreme Court’s decision in Abington v. Schempp (holding daily devotional reading of the Bible and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public school unconstitutional) is one of the most controversial opinions in the entire religion clause canon, perhaps the most controversial.  This story from a couple of days ago in the NY Times reports that it continues to be resisted.  The story gets several things wrong.  For example, consider this statement: “It has been nearly 50 years since the Supreme Court  ruled that officially sponsored prayer in public schools violated the separation of church and state.”  In the first place, “the separation of church and state” is not a standard that a majority of the Supreme Court uses or has ever used to adjudge the constitutionality of a law or policy.  And in the second, assuming that the reference is to Schempp, it is not true that the Supreme Court decided anything of the kind in that case.  It decided that daily devotional reading of the Bible and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer which was intended by the school as a religious ceremony was unconstitutional.  It much later (decades later) decided in a series of opinions that the inclusion of prayers in other school-sponsored activities was also unconstitutional.  At any event, the story contains some interesting reporting on a current controversy discussed earlier here.