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Many of us take for granted the idea that the right to religious freedom should be protected in a free, democratic polity. However, this book challenges whether the protection and privilege of religious belief and identity should be prioritized over any other right. By studying the effects of constitutional promises of religious freedom and establishment clauses, Frank B. Cross sets the stage for a set of empirical questions that examines the consequences of such protections. Although the case for broader protection is often made as a theoretical matter, constitutions generally protect freedom of religion. Allowing people full choice in holding religious beliefs or freedom of conscience is central to their autonomy. Freedom of religion is thus potentially a very valuable aspect of society, at least so long as it respects the freedom of individuals to be irreligious. This book tests these associations and finds that constitutions provide national religious protection, especially when the legal system is more sophisticated.
While issues of constitutional interpretation are often occasions of great public controversy, Cross (law, U. of Texas) argues that the interpretation of statutes is of far greater practical consequence. It this volume he reviews the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence relevant to the efforts by legal scholars to construct a systematic structure for statutory interpretation. He first presents the "delegation construct," wherein judicial authority to interpret statutes must be considered as derived from Congressional intent, even as frequent ambiguity with regard to Congressional intent is admitted. He then analyzes the leading methods and theories of statutory interpretation--textualism, legislative intent, interpretive canons, and pragmatism--particularly assessing them against the problem of willful and outcome-oriented judging. Next, he examines the practices of the Supreme Court in some 100 cases decided during the Rehnquist Court, finding pluralism in the interpretive approaches applied to cases and assessing the impact of ideological bias. Finally, he assesses the practices of lower courts, finding that textualism and pragmatism has boomed. He also finds that textualism tended to lead to negative citations that distinguished or declined to apply Supreme Court holdings, thus casting some doubt on the clarity and value of textualist interpretive methods. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)