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Law Professor: Court Missed Evidence of Non-Sectarianism

May 12, 2014
Contact: University Relations
Phone: 410.837.5739

Reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court quoting from his book about religious freedom, University of Baltimore School of Law Professor Michael Meyerson tells The Baltimore Sun that the court's majority missed an important point: The Framers of the Constitution enshrined non-sectarianism in the document, although they expressed their religious faith in their private and quasi-public dealings with each other.

Meyerson's 2012 book, Endowed By Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America, was cited in a newly decided Supreme Court case, Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway. The case concerns a town board's recitation of a prayer to open a public meeting. The court declared that prayers are acceptable in official settings.

"Meyerson contends that the counterexamples cited in the majority opinion are off point: They either took place before the Constitution was drafted—which Meyerson describes as a turning point in the Framers' thinking—or they involve assemblies of lawmakers rather than rooms full of citizens," Sun reporter John Fritze writes. "Those who opposed the decision argued that there is a difference between congressional proceedings and local meetings that generally invite more public participation."

Meyerson told the newspaper that while it is gratifying to have his work cited by the highest court in the land, he will continue to push for better understanding of what the Founding Fathers intended regarding religious freedom.     

"What we don't understand in today's partisan environment was how careful and respectful the Framers were," he told the newspaper.

"Once the Constitution was drafted, when government spoke to the people, it 'carefully and deliberately did not use sectarian language,' Meyerson said."

Read the article in The Baltimore Sun.

Learn more about Prof. Meyerson.