I hope everyone had a great Independence Day. Might I recommend the fireworks in Santa Barbara?
Now back in front of my computer, I’m catching up on the Elena Kagan hearings and some other interesting religion news I missed at the end of last week. Specifically, the Religion Clause blog picked up on what Kagan had to say about the First Amendment protections of religion and association.
In general, I think, what both First Amendment clauses are designed to do - and this is the way in which they work hand in hand with each other - what they’re both designed to do is to ensure that you have full rights as an American citizen. You are a part of this country, no matter what your religion is, and to ensure that religion just never functions as a way to put people because of their religious belief or because of their religious practice at some disadvantage with respect to any of the rights of American citizenship. So, I think that that’s the sort of overall purpose of both parts of the amendment.
In other words: you should be neither burdened nor benefited because of your personal beliefs. Fair enough. But there is often a very fine line between benefited and burdened—and Kagan gave no hint as to how the Court should hit that moving target.
The Religion Clause also provides this link to the unofficial transcript.