Rudman Center Director John Greabe Explores Changing Views of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Professor John Greabe presented the following observation to fellow panelists during a recent discussion at St. Anselm College: The Supreme Court and the Modern Republic: Religious Liberty and Other Issues.

"This idea that the Establishment Clause creates an individual right of one to be free from religion -- that is changing. Correspondingly, the Free Exercise right, also in the First Amendment, is an individual right that seems to be expanding. These are two important areas of the law that people care about that are undergoing some rapid change right now," he said. " And a lot of that is because the move has been away from focusing too much on constitutional precedent in favor of this textualist, original understanding of the Constitution, which has been translated into a historical approach."   

That change has prompted many to criticize the U.S. Supreme Court, Greabe said, "Because it’s changing things so fast that it’s reinforcing the notion that what happens in our most divisive constitutional cases isn’t really law. Rather it’s really power. It’s partisan politics in action in another form. I think you hear that criticism about this court a bit more than has previously been the case."

Greabe than asked fellow panelists whether that criticism is warranted.  To hear their answers and watch the full discussion, visit here