Liberals, “Separated” from the Constitution

Christine O’Donnell, Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware, sure started something with her feisty insistence that the Constitution doesn’t say “separation of church and state” anywhere.  The echoes of elite liberal laughter have died down, and now it seems widely acknowledged that she was . . . exactly right.  In addition to my piece in the Wilmington News Journal last week, see Thomas Sowell’s column today, and an excellent Public Discourse article by legal scholar Michael Stokes Paulsen.  Here’s a taste of Paulsen’s argument:


A strict separationist view is not supported by the Constitution. Indeed, such an approach would contradict other parts of the First Amendment, in important ways. Most obviously, it would be at war with the protection of the “free exercise” of religion. If government could wall out religious persons and groups from participation in public affairs or from benefits or programs generally available to all, on the basis of neutral criteria, that would mean government could discriminate against religion. It is utter foolishness to think that the framers of the First Amendment intended such a result—and wrote an incoherent guarantee of religious liberty that contradicted itself in the same sentence, both requiring and forbidding discrimination against religion in one breath.

See the entire article here.

Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. He ...

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