An Analysis of the Supreme Court's Holdings in Establishment Clause Cases: Comparing Holdings to Measure Consistency Across Variables
Helms, Mark Daniel
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Literature regarding the Supreme Court's holdings in Establishment Clause cases suggests the Court's jurisprudence has been inconsistent. Because the Court had both upheld and invalidated challenged governmental actions that relate to religious practices or institutions, a broad overview of the Court's holdings in Establishment Clause cases seems to support that notion. But where does the inconsistency lie: in the tests and criteria used by court members or in the holdings themselves? This thesis suggests that when comparing categories and subsets of the Court's holdings in Establishment Clause cases to one another, the jurisprudence is in fact consistent. This thesis demonstrates where the consistency can be identified and measured in the Court's jurisprudence by analyzing the holdings. The thesis employs three models, Strict-Separationism, Non-Preferentialism, and Accommodationism, to create standardized categories of Supreme Court's holdings, as independent as possible of the reasoning, criteria, or tests applied to the case by the Court members. I grouped the cases included in this study into one or more categories based on which model(s) the Court's actual holding matched. Then I compared cases within each category of holdings to one another across variables (such as actual holding and case types) to measure consistency between the cases. I conclude with an examination of the measured consistency and explanation of identified patterns in the Supreme Court's Establishment Clause holdings. The data indicated that the Court's actual holdings matched the same projected holdings consistently when compared to cases with similar variables.
- Masters Theses