Politics, Religion, and Fundamental Rights

The First Amendment. These forty-five words appended to the Constitution of the United States in 1791 have been a source of both controversy and celebration. They are the focus of the some of the most renowned as well as reviled cases in Supreme Court history. They are celebrated for the defense of what are considered quintessential American liberties and they are condemned when their interpretation purportedly departs from other American values such as morality, equality, nationalism, and progress. Of course, each of these values is itself a contested concept and all are, for better or for worse, essential elements of the American Constitutional community. The primary question pursued in this course is how do the rights of the First Amendment relate to the American Constitutional community?

Syllabus

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