Mark J. Chadsey


The purpose of this paper is to ask whether the historical record actually supports either of these assumptions. A note about my mode of analysis is necessary at this juncture. When inquiring about Jefferson’s influence on the Establishment Clause, it is important to focus on the entire process by which it was adopted rather than its mere introduction by Madison in the House of Representatives. Its adoption, after all, required the assent of two-thirds of both chambers of Congress, three-fourths of the state legislatures, and the support of a majority of the American public. Without the requisite support of all three groups the Establishment Clause would never have become part of the Constitution. To argue that Jefferson’s views regarding original intent ought to be accepted as definitive, as members of the Court have done, is implicitly to argue that his views were known to, and supported by, all three groups...Thus, throughout this paper I will write in terms of the adoption process rather than merely the drafting process, thereby reminding myself and the readers that we are considering the influence of Jefferson on this wider group.

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