Religious Liberty and the American Founding: Natural Rights and the Original Meanings of the First Amendment Religion Clauses
By Vincent Phillip Muñoz
JMC faculty partner Vincent Phillip Muñoz has recently published a book, Religious Liberty and the American Founding: Natural Rights and the Original Meanings of the First Amendment Religion Clauses, which rethinks the meaning of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom:
The Founders understood religious liberty to be an inalienable natural right. Vincent Phillip Muñoz explains what this means for church-state constitutional law, uncovering what we can and cannot determine about the original meanings of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and constructing a natural rights jurisprudence of religious liberty.
Drawing on early state constitutions, declarations of religious freedom, Founding-era debates, and the First Amendment’s drafting record, Muñoz demonstrates that adherence to the Founders’ political philosophy would lead neither to consistently conservative nor consistently liberal results. Rather, adopting the Founders’ understanding would lead to a minimalist church-state jurisprudence that, in most cases, would return authority from the judiciary to the American people. Thorough and convincing, Religious Liberty and the American Founding is key reading for those seeking to understand the Founders’ political philosophy of religious freedom and the First Amendment Religion Clauses.
Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at The University of Notre Dame. He also serves as the Founding Director of Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government.
Dr. Muñoz writes and teaches across the fields of political philosophy, constitutional studies, and American politics. His research has focused on the theme of religious liberty and the American Constitution. His first book, God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson (Cambridge University Press, 2009), won the Hubert Morken Award from the American Political Science Association for the best publication on religion and politics in 2009 and 2010. His First Amendment church-state casebook, Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents, was published in 2013 (Rowman & Littlefield, revised edition 2015) and is being used at Notre Dame and other leading universities.
Professor Muñoz is a JMC faculty partner.
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