For decades, judicial decisions from the Supreme Court have demonstrated the fragile balance within the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment addressing the establishment of religion.
And yet, for author and political scientist Vincent Phillip Muñoz, the Supreme Court, whether it held a liberal or conservative leaning, has continually issued rulings contrary to the intended wishes of the Founding Fathers.
The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies welcomed Muñoz to headline its Constitution Day program on September 19 at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
Muñoz’s appearance continued the Hauenstein Center’s fall series focused on empowered citizenship. Throughout the fall semester, the Hauenstein Center will host authors, lecturers and scholars who will explore the responsibilities facing citizens on national and global scales.
Muñoz, the Tocqueville Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, discussed the intent of the Founding Fathers when it came to the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause.
“The founders have much to teach us, but the lessons they offer do not neatly fit into our current political categories,” Muñoz began. “Freedom from religion and freedom for religion are both aspects of the founders’ understanding of religious freedom.
“But, the freedom our founders secured for us was more limited and democratic than either contemporary progressives or conservatives will admit,” he said.