“For decades, the Supreme Court took a robust approach to the establishment clause and provided relatively weak protections under the free exercise clause. Now, though, the court is taking the exactly the opposite course, finding little that violates the establishment clause and creating robust protections under the free exercise clause. The implications of this shift are enormous.”
There is a deep political divide on the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the country, over the Constitution and religion. Liberals long have interpreted the establishment clause of the First Amendment as best understood through Thomas Jefferson?s metaphor that there should be a wall separating church and state. For decades, this was the approach taken by the Supreme Court, but conservatives reject this notion and believe the government violates the establishment clause only if it coerces religious participation or gives assistance that favors some religions over others.