fact sheet | Jan 17, 2008

From Roe to Stenberg: A History of Key Abortion Rulings by the Supreme Court

Navigate this document Roe v. Wade The Post-Roe Court Casey and Stenberg Reproductive issues were largely a private affair early in American history. Although abortion was deemed illegal under English common law, the state rarely took any interest in prosecuting those cases that became public. Public attitudes changed dramatically in the early 19th century, driven […]

report | Dec 19, 2007

An Impassioned Debate: An Overview of the Death Penalty in America

(Updated June 26, 2008) In this article: The role of the courts Lethal injection and the Baze case Child rape and the Kennedy case The history of the death penalty The death penalty worldwide Few public policy issues have inflamed passions as consistently and as strongly as the debate over capital punishment. Religious communities have […]

fact sheet | Oct 24, 2007

A Delicate Balance: The Free Exercise Clause and the Supreme Court

In a new series of occasional reports, “Religion and the Courts: The Pillars of Church-State Law,” the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life explores the complex, fluid relationship between government and religion. Among the issues to be examined are religion in public schools, displays of religious symbols on public property, conflicts concerning the free […]

report | Oct 24, 2007

The Free Exercise Clause and the Parameters of Religious Liberty

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that the federal government will respect the “free exercise” of religion. But the precise meaning of “free exercise” and exactly what constitutes an infringement of this right are not clear-cut. At the heart of the debate is one basic question: Do individuals or groups professing sincerely held […]

report | Aug 2, 2007

A Summer of Discontent with Washington

Summary of Findings As official Washington winds down for its summer holiday, all three branches of government are coming under fire from the American public. Just 29% approve of the way President Bush is handling his job, and only slightly more, 33%, approve of the job performance of the Democratic leaders of Congress. Even the […]

report | Jun 27, 2007

Capital Punishment’s Constant Constituency: An American Majority

(For more recent public opinion data on the death penalty, see a 2011 analysis.) by Robert Ruby, Senior Editor, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life In the last 35 years, beginning with its temporary moratorium on the death penalty, the Supreme Court has changed its view of capital punishment and done so more than […]

report | Jun 27, 2007

From the Ten Commandments to Christmas Trees: Public Religious Displays and the Courts

For most of the nation’s history, public religious displays were not controversial. But in recent decades, a growing number of citizens and civil liberties groups have sued towns, cities and states over religious symbols in the public square, arguing that these displays should be removed because they violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on government establishment […]

transcript | Jun 14, 2007

After Gonzales v. Carhart : The Future of Abortion Jurisprudence

Washington, D.C. On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court handed down a major ruling on abortion rights, upholding the constitutionality of the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The 5-4 decision in the case, Gonzales v. Carhart, upheld for the first time a law that bans a specific abortion method, and it did so even though […]

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