Religious Liberty and the American Founding: Natural Rights and the Original Meaning of the First Amendment's Religion Clauses

Mar 2, 2020, 4:30 pmMar 4, 2020, 6:00 pm
Bowen Hall 222


Event Description

Vincent Phillip MuñozTocqueville Associate Professor of Religion & Public Life; Concurrent Associate Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame

Lecture One: Justice Scalia was Right in Smith: Why the Original Meaning of the Free Exercise Clause Does Not Require Religious Exemptions

In his first lecture, Professor Muñoz challenges the reigning orthodoxy among originalist scholars and conservative jurists that the First Amendment protects religious liberty by providing religious exemptions. Understanding the Founders’ natural rights social compact constitutionalism, Professor Muñoz contends, leads to a more limited, but more thorough, protection for the free exercise of religion.

Lecture Two: Constructing the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses: A New Originalist Approach to Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

In his second lecture, Professor Muñoz provides new originalist constructions of the First Amendment Religion Clauses. The Founders’ First Amendment, he argues, does not mandate state “neutrality” toward religion, but rather protection for our inalienable right of religious free exercise and the prohibition of relationships of privilege and control between church and state.

Lecture Three: Should We Adopt the Founders’ Natural Rights Constitutionalism of Religious Liberty?

In his final lecture, Professor Muñoz discusses the case for and against adopting the Founders’ understanding of religious free exercise and the disassociation of church and state. Are the Founders’ principles of religious freedom compelling? Would they make for good constitutional law today? Professors Drakeman and Moreland respond.

Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. He is the Founding Director of ND’s undergraduate minor in Constitutional Studies and also directs Notre Dame’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry into Religion and Public Life. Professor Muñoz writes and teaches across the fields of constitutional law, American politics, and political philosophy with a focus on religious liberty and the American Founding. His first book, God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson (Cambridge University Press, 2009) won the Hubert Morken Award from the American Political Science Association for the best publication on religion and politics in 2009 and 2010. His First Amendment church-state case reader, Religious Liberty and the American Supreme Court: The Essential Cases and Documents (Rowman & Littlefield) was first published in 2013 (revised edition, 2015) and is being used at Notre Dame and other leading universities. In 2019, he joined the editorial team of American Constitutional Law (11th edition, Routledge, 2019), the leading constitutional law casebooks designed for undergraduate instruction. Professor Muñoz has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to support his current project, a scholarly monograph on the natural right of religious liberty and the original meaning of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses. Articles from that project have appeared in American Political Science ReviewThe Harvard Journal of Law and Public PolicyNotre Dame Law ReviewAmerican Political Thought, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law. Professor Muñoz has spoken at over 70 colleges and universities in the past several years. He received his B.A. at Claremont McKenna College, his M.A. at Boston College, and his Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate School.

Funded by:

The Bouton Law Lecture Fund


Lecture Series
Charles E. Test, M.D. '37 Distinguished Lectures Series