For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Sacred, Mundane, Profane
A Constitutional Perspective
  • Scott Rutledge
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Sacred, Mundane, Profane. A Constitutional Perspective
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The U.S. Constitution was painstakingly crafted to offer guidance on questions and perennial conflicts, on issues where the secular and religious, the mundane and sacred, often flow into one another. Its authors sought to minimize ambiguities, but as they grappled with political architecture, they grappled unavoidably with spiritual ambiguity as well.

The ideal of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution stands in vivid contrast to the tendencies inherent in today’s “living constitution.” This book discusses religious liberty in the largest sense. 

About the Author

Scott Rutledge earned a J.D. from the Hastings College of Law, adding that to his Master’s in mathematics and logic from Arizona State University. A practicing insurance and real estate attorney for thirty years, he also served as an Assistant Attorney General in New Mexico and an Assistant Counsel in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His studies and his experience give him an unusual perspective on the Supreme Court’s very tangled jurisprudence of religion.

About the Book
The Constitution of the United States provides an excellent study of the uncertain boundaries between political and religious life. Its authors, as they grappled with political architecture, grappled unavoidably also with spiritual ambiguity....
The Constitution of the United States provides an excellent study of the uncertain boundaries between political and religious life. Its authors, as they grappled with political architecture, grappled unavoidably also with spiritual ambiguity. Consider the various goals expressly stated in the Constitution's Preamble: union, justice, domestic tranquility, the common defense, the general welfare, liberty.

The centerpiece of this book is an analysis of the Constitution as a secular scripture, built around certain religious decisions and certain religious policies that America’s Founders set for the new nation in 1787 and 1791, within the four corners of that instrument.

Further, the role of the Supreme Court is examined. A central role of the Supreme Court is the assessment of our laws, state and national, for compatibility with the authorizations and limitations set forth in the Constitution of the United States.

Yet the Court has been busily reversing — sometimes incrementally, sometimes wholesale — the religious policies, express or implied, of the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has ceased to be a strictly legal institution, if it ever was one. 

Who makes the laws in the United States? When the Justices issue rulings lacking any persuasive, sometimes even any plausible connection to the constitutional text, what is happening? 

The author argues that in many such cases the Court is unwittingly acting in a religious capacity while speaking the language of constitutional interpretation. If this is so, then it cannot be surprising that the nomination and appointment of new Justices become occasions for the display of intense passions and unprincipled partisanship. The contentiousness includes, moreover, the nature of the role which the Justices now claim for themselves, that of an originator of new laws and policies. The question is explored here through a careful selection and reassessment of a dozen very interesting and controversial cases.

We have seen, in the past 150 years and more, that the interrelations between law, morality, culture, and religion tend to become very confused, very complicated, and often very bitter. Much confusion and complication, moreover, has arisen out of the work of our latter-day Supreme Court Justices, who lately have acted quite forthrightly as cultural therapists to the American nation, or as a committee for general cultural improvement. 

We need to recognize that the American founders may well have thought more carefully and more soundly about these matters than their political posterity, and the Constitution represents their best thinking.

Here is a fresh viewpoint upon these developments, written to be accessible to a much broader readership than the legal profession alone. Focusing upon a number of pivotal rulings from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries, the author asks: What are the religious implications, or consequences, implicit in the Justices’ lawyerly rhetoric?


Pages 138
Year: 2021
LC Classification:
BISAC: POL040030 POLITICAL SCIENCE/ American Government / Judicial Branch
BISAC: LAW111000 LAW / Judicial Power
BISAC: LAW018000 LAW / Constitutional
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-449-5
Price: USD 19.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-450-1
Price: USD 29.95
ISBN: 978-1-62894-451-8
Price: USD 19.95
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