Recoiling from Religion


This is a critical review of Professor Marci A. Hamilton’s book, God vs. The Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2005). It focuses on Hamilton’s conception of what she terms “the public good” and its application to the relationship between government and religious institutions and believers. The review offers several criticisms of Hamilton’s public good and argues that the conception she advocates is ambiguous, unstable, and frequently merely a stand-in for her policy preferences on a variety of issues. The review considers the ways in which religion or religious interests could ever play a role in Hamilton’s public good, concluding that Hamilton’s profound disillusionment with religion has led her to vest an unjustifiably high degree of trust in the legislature to determine moral worth.


Public Law and Legal Theory

Date of this Version

February 2006