Doe v. Elmbrook School District and the Importance of Refocusing Establishment Clause Jurisprudence

Karaba, Julie M. | October 1, 2013

Establishment Clause jurisprudence is notoriously convoluted. In a recent case, Doe v. Elmbrook School District, the Seventh Circuit found unconstitutional a public school district’s practice of conducting high school graduation ceremonies in the sanctuary of an evangelical Christian church. The case illustrated the particular difficulty of assessing the constitutionality of government activity that takes place in a house of worship. This Note suggests that refocusing Establishment Clause jurisprudence on liberty of conscience is a historically appropriate and simpler way of measuring potential Establishment Clause violations, both when religion invades government and when government goes to church.