Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Ralph C. Chandler

Second Advisor

Peter G. Renstrom

Third Advisor

Robert W. Kaufman

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


During the Reagan years, a demand was heard for a change in the way in which the Supreme Court decides cases. Answering the call for a "jurisprudence of original intention," scholars, politicians, judges, and justices debated the use of this constitutional theory. In a review of cases decided under the religion clauses of the First Amendment in the years between 1960 and 1988, the opinions of Reagan and non-Reagan appointees to the Supreme Court are analyzed to determine the use of references to original intent by the justices. In particular, the problem raised by Bork and labeled "the Madisonian dilemma" is examined to discover the relationship between references to original intent and opinions supporting or striking down legislative enactments. There is a slight difference in the number of references by the two groups of justices, but the difference is significant when it come to striking down legislative enactments.