Civil Peace and the Quest for Truth: The First Amendment Freedoms in Political Philosophy and American Constitutionalism

Civil Peace and the Quest for Truth: The First Amendment Freedoms in Political Philosophy and American Constitutionalism

by Murray Dry
     
 

The freedoms of speech and religion assumed a sacrosanct space in American notions of civil liberty. But it was not until the twentieth century that these freedoms became prominent in American constitutional law; originally, the first ten amendments applied only to the federal government and not to the states. Murray Dry traces the trajectory of freedom of speech

Overview

The freedoms of speech and religion assumed a sacrosanct space in American notions of civil liberty. But it was not until the twentieth century that these freedoms became prominent in American constitutional law; originally, the first ten amendments applied only to the federal government and not to the states. Murray Dry traces the trajectory of freedom of speech and religion to the center of contemporary debates as few scholars have done, by looking back to the American founding and to the classical texts in political philosophy that shaped the founders' understanding of republican government. By comparing the colonial charters with the new state constitutions and studying the development of the federal Constitution, Dry demonstrates the shift from governmental concern for the salvation of souls to the more limited aim of the securing of rights. For a uniquely rich and nuanced appreciation of this shift Dry explores the political philosophy of Locke, Spinoza, Montesquieu, and Mill, among others, whose writings helped shaped the Supreme Court's view of religion as separate from philosophy, as a matter of individual faith and not a community practice. Delving into the polyvalent interpretations of such fundamental concepts as truth, faith, and freedom, Civil Peace and the Quest for Truth immeasurably advances the study of American constitutional law and our First Amendment rights.

Editorial Reviews

Daniel Farber
The great distinction of this book is that it links three subjects, which are far too often considered separately: constitutional protection for free speech, the religion clauses of the Constitutions, and the teachings of the political philosophers who influenced the Founding Fathers. Professor Dry reveals the deep ties between these subjects, thereby shedding considerable light on modern constitutional doctrine.
Suzanna Sherry
This timely book carefully describes the Supreme Court's constitutional doctrines of free speech and religion, and shows how that jurisprudence is derived from the Enlightenment thinkers who influenced the drafters of the American Constitution. Dry's analysis contains many insights on contemporary problems-from school vouchers to flag-burning-that will educate lawyers and non-lawyers alike. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the constitutional protection of speech and religion.
James R. Stoner
Civil Peace and the Quest for Truth has many virtues, not least its lucid presentation of an argument assumed by many but made by few. The author's broad reach of argumentation, precise scholarship, clear organization and expression, and confident liberalism promise that the book serves as a valuable introduction and reference for anyone considering the relation of political philosophy to American constitutionalism.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739109311
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
11/30/2004
Series:
Applications of Political Theory Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.24(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.96(d)

Meet the Author

Murray Dry is Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science at Middlebury College.

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