RightWisconsin | Protecting Religious Freedom No Easy Task

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg writing at RightWisconsin today:

In one of the most ringing passages in our constitutional jurisprudence, Justice Robert Jackson observed, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Our founders embedded an important aspect of this liberty in the Bill of Rights by guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Religious freedom was thought to deserve special protection because claims of faith and conscience were uniquely compelling. In his “Memorial and Remonstrance” to the Virginia General Assembly, James Madison cited as a “fundamental and undeniable truth” that “religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.” Freedom of religion was, both in theory and by its placement in the Bill of Rights, our “first freedom.”


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