The regime change in the free exercise of religion debate
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Religious litigation in the modern era at the Supreme Court level falls into two separate regimes that delineate specific trends emanating from and acting upon religious policy. Each regime contains its own set of ideas, interests, and institutions that characterize the nature and extent of religious freedom under the law. The first regime began with the incorporation of the First Amendment's religion clauses and represents a period of stability and equilibrium among the Court, Congress, and the involved interest groups. However, the Court's ruling in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) destroyed that equilibrium and marked the beginning of a new regime characterized by uncertainty and complexity. Within that second regime, the Court and Congress are locked in a battle over policy-making authority, while interest groups that were former rivals now have joined together for the promotion of free exercise. Today, the second regime is still in place and the complexity surrounding the free exercise debate continues to grow.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 31-34).
Scheuermann, Leslie Theresa (2004). The regime change in the free exercise of religion debate. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from