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May 4, 2007

Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or

Dean Lawrence Sager Presents New Book at Barnes & Noble Westlake, May 6

Cover of Religious Freedom and the Constitution

AUSTIN, Texas—University of Texas School of Law Dean Lawrence Sager, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional theorists and scholars, will discuss his latest book, Religious Freedom and the Constitution, at Barnes & Noble Westlake on Sunday, May 6, at 4 p.m.

The new book—co-written with Princeton University Provost Christopher L. Eisgruber—was published this spring by Harvard University Press.

Andrew Koppelman of Northwestern University School of Law described the book as “one of the most important books on religious liberty to appear in years.” Koppelman wrote, “Anyone interested in freedom of religion should read it, and for specialists in the area, it is a must.”

Barnes & Noble Westlake is located in Austin, Texas, within The Village at Westlake shopping center at the intersection of Bee Cave Road and Loop 360.

About the Book

Members of the human race have a poor record of living together in peace, and an even worse one of treating each other fairly. Religious differences have often been the cause, or at least the excuse, for the most egregious offenses. Religion is a charged token in a politics of division. Americans find themselves in angry confrontations over a growing number of issues involving matters of religious faith. They clash about faith-based social services and public financing of religious schools. They fight over holiday displays, Ten Commandments monuments, the use of the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the theory of evolution, school-sponsored prayers at football games.

We are on the brink of abandoning one of our most important constitutional projects, the project of finding and abiding by fair terms of cooperation for a religiously diverse people. Religious Freedom and the Constitution pulls us back by arguing that part of the problem is that constitutional analysis of religious freedom has been hobbled by the idea of “a wall of separation” between church and state. That metaphor has been understood to demand that religion be treated far better than other concerns in some contexts, and far worse in others. In response, the authors offer an understanding of religious freedom called Equal Liberty.

Equal Liberty is guided by two principles. First, no one within the reach of the Constitution ought to be devalued on account of the spiritual foundation of their commitments. Second, all persons should enjoy broad rights of free speech, personal autonomy, associative freedom, and private property. Together, these principles are generous and fair to a wide range of religious beliefs and practices. The authors offer practical, moderate, and appealing terms for the settlement of many hot-button issues that have plunged religious freedom into controversy. Religious Freedom and the Constitution calls Americans back to the project of finding fair terms of cooperation for a religiously diverse people, and it offers a valuable set of tools for working toward that end.

About the Author

Lawrence Sager is one of the nation's preeminent constitutional theorists and scholars. His appointment as Dean is widely regarded as an event of great promise for the School of Law. Dean Sager came to Texas from New York University School of Law, where he was the Robert B. McKay Professor and Co-Founder of the Program in Law, Philosophy & Social Theory. He has also taught at Harvard, Princeton, Boston University, UCLA, and the University of Michigan. Dean Sager is the author or co-author of dozens of articles, many now classics in the canon of legal scholarship. In 2004, The Yale University Press published Dean Sager’s book, "Justice in Plainclothes: A Theory of American Constitutional Practice," which provides a systematic account of the central features of American constitutionalism.

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