The Establishment Clause of the first Amendment, fiche de droit constitutionnel étranger en anglais
Jefferson explained the establishment clause had been written to build ?a wall of separation between Church and State.' As the Free Exercise Clause the Establishment Clause guarantees religious liberty. On a historic point of view, ...
[...] Board of Education clarified the use of the establishment clause: "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” Moreover the Supreme Court first considered the question of financial assistance to religious organizations in Bradfield v. Roberts (1899). Other decisions make clear that the Supreme Court view "the wall" separating church and state more as a porous barrier. [...]
[...] Madison himself wrote on "total separation of the church from the state" (1819 letter to Robert Walsh), and "perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters" (1822 letter to Livingston). Finally, the establishment clause is no more in debate in the US society, even if some minorities would have a national religion, and even if God still has an important place in it (US society). We have to keep in mind that the establishment clause is about the separation between the church and the state, and not between God and the state. [...]
[...] In this way the Establishment Clause restricts the legislative branch of the government. It forbids even laws respecting an establishment of religion. Studying the US case law history, we can see that during the first 150 years of America's history there were very few occasions for the courts to interpret the establishment clause. There is a reason: the First Amendment hadn't been applied to the states. But now state and local governments are also subjects to the restriction against laws respecting an establishment of religion. [...]
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