Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 1997


Section II of this Article studies in greater detail the religio-legal debate currently being waged in American courts and legislatures, including a brief discussion of the religio-legal history of the United States. Section II also describes how the United States resembles and differs from Ireland such that subsequent comparisons will be more accurate. Section III compares the two constitutions by analyzing the provisions and policies most influenced by religion. First, general principles of sovereignty and constitutional interpretation are reviewed to understand the general constitutional framework of each nation. Second, the manner in which personal rights are treated by each nation's constitution is studied. This section discusses what is often called “family law,” including issues of abortion, marriage, divorce, and the rights of women, children, and homosexuals. The use of the term “personal rights” is conscious, and is intended to emphasize the modern focus on the rights of the individual as opposed to the rights of the family unit. The term “personal rights” also recognizes that many of the legal questions that fall under the “family law” rubric have little to do with familial relationships per se, and more to do with individual choice. Third, constitutional provisions regarding education are considered.Section IV of this Article analyzes the extent to which Irish and American laws comply with international human rights conventions concerning religious rights. Section IV also discusses whether the inclusion of religion in law tends to increase or decrease the potential for violence within and between societies.Section V discusses where each nation is headed in terms of religion and law, and offers suggestions as to what the United States and Ireland should do to create an optimal religious rights framework.



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