Student Author(s)

Leah Renkema, Hope College

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. David Ryden, Political Science

Document Type


Event Date



In its most recent completed term, the United States Supreme Court decided a number of key cases altering the placement of religious liberty in modern American constitutional law. While the Court has long struck different balances between preserving the constitutional mandates on both religious liberty and religious establishment, there has been a general consensus by those studying the Court that their interpretations over the past twenty years underneath the Roberts Court have trended towards the more accommodationist understanding of religious liberty. There is less agreement on what this newly composed Court and their recent decisions mean for the direction of constitutional understanding of religious liberty. Whether this term is a continuation of a long-standing trend in religious liberty jurisprudence, a complete overhaul by religious zealots, or simply cleaning the house of disorganized and unclear precedent, there are three cases from this last term which offer insight into the current state of religious liberty in American constitutional law. This research examines the opinions of the Court in these cases — Kennedy v. Bremerton, Carson v. Makin, and Shurtleff v. Boston — as key indicators of where the Court is now and where it may be going.