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Constitutional Law

The Religion Clauses

The Religion Clauses

Learn about the related but distinct—and, at times, conflicting—protections of the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause, and the various tests the Supreme Court has articulated to at once guarantee freedom of religion while minimizing the government’s role in promoting particular religions over others.


It’s impossible to overstate the First Amendment’s importance to modern constitutional law, or the doctrinal complexity that’s arisen from judicial efforts to give content to the amendment’s six independent protections. The six First Amendment protections are: freedom from governmental establishment of religion (known as the Establishment Clause), freedom from governmental interference with the practice of religion (known as the “Free Exercise Clause”), free speech, freedom of the press,...