Why Associations Matter

First Amendment rights are hailed as the hallmark of the US constitutional system, protecting religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. But among these rights, freedom of association holds a tenuous position, as demonstrated in the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which upheld a public university’s policy requiring groups seeking official recognition to accept all students regardless of their status or beliefs. This demotion of freedom of association has broad ramifications for the constitutional status of voluntary associations in civil society. My book offers a cogent explanation of how this came about, why it matters, and what might be done about it.

Purchase Why Associations Matter: The Case for First Amendment Pluralism from the publisher, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

“Blending brilliant sociological and philosophical insights with a profound rendering of how the First Amendment is supposed to protect freedom of association, this book by Luke C. Sheahan is truly magnificent. It should be on the shelf and in the mind of every scholar, journalist, judge, religious leader, policymaker, and citizen who wishes to understand, save, support, and strengthen America’s most vital civil society institutions.”

John J. DiIulio, Jr., professor, University of Pennsylvania, and founding director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Why Associations Matter is a welcome and valuable contribution to the lively and important conversation about the role that associations, groups, and societies play in the infrastructure of human freedom. Luke Sheahan reminds us that diverse and distinctive associations help to constrain government overreach and create space for human persons, who are fundamentally communal beings, to flourish. As he explains, a political community that is committed to meaningful diversity will protect and appreciate the rights of associations to be distinctive and different.”

Richard W. Garnett, Paul J. Schierl/Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School

“On one level Luke Sheahan’s excellent book is a practical, lawyerly brief aiming to correct a mistake in legal doctrine and public policy. At a deeper level, however, it is part of a crucial attempt to recover the way of thinking essential to ordered liberty.”

University Bookman

Sheahan’s book advances an important conversation about how to appreciate the social dimension of life–including associations–in the face of an individualistic intellectual culture.”

Christianity Today

“Sheahan has successfully applied political theory and sociology to provide a solid theoretical foundation on which the Court might build robust protections for the First Amendment’s rights of associations.”

Public Discourse

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