Jay Wexler is the author of Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars. He is a professor of law at Boston University Law School.
Christine O'Donnell: This could be you.
So, the blogosphere and tweetosphere and facebookosphere are all abuzz about how it appears that Christine O'Donnell doesn't really know what the first amendment's religion clauses say. I've watched the footage, and I think that probably she was trying inartfully to make the old point that the First Amendment does not actually include the phrase "separation of church and state." This is true, but irrelevant. The First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The Supreme Court has long interpreted these two clauses (the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause) to require a certain amount of separation between church and state, with the details of what exactly that means with respect to various specific controversies worked out over time through lots of cases examining particular facts. The First Amendment is very complicated when it comes to religion, it's true, but luckily for Ms. O'Donnell, I have written a book about exactly what the religion clauses mean, in a way that I think even she could understand. After all, Publishers Weekly wrote in its starred review that my "lucid explications of difficult constitutional concepts and the vagaries of Supreme Court rulings are superb, providing readers a deeper understanding of the First Amendment and Supreme Court jurisprudence." So, here's my offer to you, Ms. O'Donnell. If you would like a copy of my book Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battleground of the Church/State Wars, to help you prepare for your next political debate, I would be absolutely delighted to send it to you free of charge, and I'll even pay for postage. Let me know. I'll be checking my email at [email protected] for your message.