Establishing Inequality

Part I outlines Nussbaum’s thesis and her similarly interesting, if perhaps not always completely consistent, applications of it. Part II touches on some challenges and potential shortcomings her theory presents-for clearly there are such. But, in Part III, I argue that her wide-ranging study of the work of the religion clauses nonetheless touches something residing at the core of American citizenship. No bosses. No masters. No insiders. None outcast. Finally, and far more idiosyncratically, in Part IV I explore and expand on Nussbaum’s thesis in light of a modestly serious and rather public dispute over religious equality that occurred at the College of William and Mary during my presidency there. A disagreement over the display of religious symbols in a public university, to my surprise, echoed more in traditional claims of equality and privilege than I would have assumed. I am candid in claiming that my own experiences suggest, perhaps unfortunately, that Nussbaum is rather acutely on to something when it comes to the central meaning of the protection of religious liberty in a diverse and democratic culture. A respect for the equal status of dissenters animates the religion clauses and highlights the crucial nature of their implementation. It suggests, as well, that the road ahead may be as controversial as the one behind.