Friday, February 3, 2023

Muñoz, "Religious Liberty and the American Founding"

The University of Chicago Press has published Religious Liberty and the American Founding: Natural Rights and the Original Meanings of the First Amendment Religion Clauses (2022), by Vincent Phillip Muñoz (University of Notre Dame). A description from the Press:

The Founders understood religious liberty to be an inalienable natural right. Vincent Phillip Muñoz explains what this means for church-state constitutional law, uncovering what we can and cannot determine about the original meanings of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses and constructing a natural rights jurisprudence of religious liberty.  

Drawing on early state constitutions, declarations of religious freedom, Founding-era debates, and the First Amendment’s drafting record, Muñoz demonstrates that adherence to the Founders’ political philosophy would lead neither to consistently conservative nor consistently liberal results. Rather, adopting the Founders’ understanding would lead to a minimalist church-state jurisprudence that, in most cases, would return authority from the judiciary to the American people. Thorough and convincing, Religious Liberty and the American Founding is key reading for those seeking to understand the Founders’ political philosophy of religious freedom and the First Amendment Religion Clauses. 
A sample of advance praise:

"This book is the culmination of a decade of Muñoz’s scholarship on the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Those who imagine there is nothing new and valuable to say on this much-analyzed topic should think again. Muñoz has written the best account in one place of the way in which the political theory of the founders regarding religious liberty connects with the delphic legal text of those clauses." ― Michael W. McConnell

More information is available here. (H/t New Books Network)

-- Karen Tani