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In Religion, State and the Burger Court, Leo Pfeffer, the leading authority on church/state law, presents a trenchant analysis of the decisions of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, focusing on the Court's interpretation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. These amendments that guarantee the separation of church and state and the free exercise of religion are fundamental to the unique character of democracy as it exists in the United States. However, the distinction between affairs of state and the concerns of organized religion has become blurred.
In his examination of the Burger Court, Pfeffer found that, initially, it followed the precedents established by earlier courts and in some major respects it went even further. For example, it extended the ban on public school prayer and ruled financial aid to church-related schools to be unconstitutional. However, with the election of Ronald Reagan, the Burger Court moved toward greater accommodation and away from a separatist position.
Pfeffer's description of these Supreme Court cases is nonpartisan and illuminates the legal issues and implications of these decisions for a lay audience. However, well-known as a strict separationist, Pfeffer does not withhold his own partisan judgement as to the significance and correctness of these decisions and the dangerous direction in which they may lead the court.