It is often assumed that the judiciary - especially the Supreme Court - provides the best protection of religious freedom in the USA. Louis Fisher, however, argues that only on occasion does the Court lead the charge for minority rights. More likely it is seen pulling up the rear. By contrast, Congress frequently acts to protect religious groups by exempting them from general laws on taxation, social security, military service, labour, and countless other statutes. Indeed, legislative action on behalf of religious freedom is an American success story, but one that Fisher argues has been poorly understood by many. Taking in the full span of American history, Fisher demonstrates that over the course of two centuries of American government Congress has often been AT the forefront of establishing and protecting rights that have been neglected, denied or unrecognized by the Court - and that statutory provisions far outstrip, in both number and importance, the court cases that have expanded religious rights. In this text, Fisher presents a series of case studies that explain how Supreme Court rulings on religious liberty have been challenged and countermanded by public pressures, legislation, and independent state action. He tells how religious groups interested in securing the rights of conscientious objectors received satisfaction by taking their cases to Congress, not the courts; how public uproar over a 1940 Supreme Court ruling sustaining compulsory flag-salutes resulted in a court reversal; and how Congress intervened in a 1986 ruling upholding a military prohibition of skullcaps for Jews. By describing other controversies such as school prayer, Indian religious freedom, the religious use of peyote, and statutory exemptions for religious organizations, Fisher demonstrates that we must understand the political and not just the judicial context for the safeguards that protect religious minorities.
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 558 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm