Church v. State: from Confessionalism to Judicial Interpretation in Everson v. Board of Education.

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Morton, James
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
In Everson v. Board. of Education of Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), Justice Hugo Black and dissenting Justice Wiley Rutledge relied on the words of the founding fathers to interpret the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. This thesis looks beyond the founding father’s statements to the cultural and historical influences that induced the inclusion of the Establishment Clause in the Bill of Rights. Using James Madison as the principal architect of the Bill of Rights, this thesis explores the possible influences of the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and societal issues of the mid-eighteenth century in creating Madison’s understanding of the proper relationship between the church and the state. This is compared to the Everson decision to determine if the Justices use of originalism is consistent with the Madison’s intentions. This thesis finds that the Supreme Court in Everson misinterprets Madison by failing to account for his cultural context.  
Madison, religion, faction, freedom, establishment, reformation, enlightenment, Everson