OPEN LETTER TO ERIN DALY
Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Development
Christine was absolutely right about "Separation of Church and State" not being in the First Amendment or the Constitution. As I am sure you know, but may not admit, the phrase "Separation of Church and State" comes from a letter from President Jefferson to a private group. It did not appear in Supreme Court decisional law until Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 164 (1878), a hundred years after the Revolution.
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between a man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”—Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Danbury, Connecticut, Baptists.
The First Amendment was ratified in 1791, a dozen years before the Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison.