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The Christ Child Goes to Court

Wayne Swanson

Publication Year: 2010

Published by: Temple University Press

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pp. ix-xii

THIS BOOK HAS TWO MAJOR PURPOSES. The first objective is to add to the limited number of case studies that are available as textbooks for courses in American politics. During twenty years of college teaching I have listened to colleagues lament that the discipline suffers from a lack of good case studies. The Christ Child Goes to Court ...

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pp. 3-10

THE JUDICIARY IN THE UNITED STATES performs an indispensable role in resolving the nation's most difficult problems. History clearly shows that the major questions that claim a position on our political agenda invariably make it to the courts' dockets. This has been especially true during the last half-century,...

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I. The ACLU and Pawtucket's Christmas Display: The Controversy Unfolds

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pp. 11-42

THE UNITED STATES HAD KNOWN better times than December 1980. Anxieties ran high. The holiday spirit was not all bright lights and tinsel. The economy was out of control. Numbers told the story. Unemployment, interest rates, and inflation were all in double digits. OPEC had become a symbol of anger ...

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II. Round One: The District Court Decides

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pp. 43-84

THE U.S. CONSTITUTION PLACES courts and judges in a unique position in the political system and makes special demands upon the way they function. The judiciary is the most independent of the three branches of government. Federal judges are appointed and hold their offices for life, barring misconduct. ...

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III. Round Two: The Court of Appeals

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pp. 85-100

JUDGES ARE FREQUENTLY ASKED to rule on aspects of constitutional law that most citizens do not appreciate or understand. This is particularly true with issues of individual rights and civil liberties. Although most Americans support Bill of Rights guarantees in the abstract, their level of tolerance for minority ...

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IV. A Final Hearing: The Supreme Court

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pp. 101-154

A VISITOR TO THE SUPREME COURT cannot mistake the influence of John Marshall upon American constitutional law. On entering the building one is immediately drawn to the larger-than-life statue of our third chief justice, which dominates the main lobby. Behind him, etched in marble, are the brightly illuminated ...

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V. The Reaction

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pp. 155-184

WHEN THE SUPREME COURT HANDS down a decision, an important stage in the process by which the political system passes judgment on issues of constitutional law is concluded. For the parties in the Nativity scene dispute the Court ruling created a clear winner and loser. Pawtucket, by prevailing in the ...

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VI. The Establishment Clause Revisited

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pp. 185-206

IT IS DIFFICULT TO FIND ANYONE who is willing to come to the defense of the Supreme Court's record on questions of establishment of religion. The task is not an easy one. The variety of religious views that are represented in the United States and the sensitive nature of church-state relationships place an unusually ...


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pp. 207-218


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pp. 219-228


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pp. 229-236


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pp. 237-242

E-ISBN-13: 9781439903827

Publication Year: 2010