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Data Collection

  1. Library of Congress Link: The link to the Supreme Court opinion link on the Library of Congress website. There are a small number of cases that do not have a link because they were not accompanied by a written opinion and therefore not posted to the Library of Congress website.
  2. Religious Tradition Involved: The religious tradition named or implicated in the case. If it is not specified or self-evident, it is listed as unspecified.
  3. State/Territory of Origin: The state or territory where the case originated. Multiple states may be listed for cases that consolidated cases on appeal.
  4. Clause (Free Exercise / Establishment / Both / Other): The clause that the majority opinion primarily analyzes. Cases involving state law that were decided prior to the incorporation of the First Amendment are denoted with an asterisk.
  5. Does It Involve Religious Institution(s) or Individual(s)?: Indicates whether the case primarily implicated a religious individual or religious institution. "Religious institution" is construed broadly to include institutions with a religious practice--for example, cases involving prayer in public schools are categorized as involving "institutions." Institution also includes religious groups or corporations.
  6. Local / State / Federal Legislation: The type of law violated or challenged. "Local" may include local ordinances or resolutions."Other" may indicate that multiple types of legislation or no specific legislation was involved. Early cases that involved the laws of territories or common law are also categorized as "other."
  7. Dissent Author(s): The author(s) of the dissenting opinion(s).
  8. Uphold / Overturn Penultimate Court: Indicates whether the Supreme Court affirmed (upheld), reversed (overturned), dismissed, or vacated the penultimate court's decision. In some cases that were reversed in part and affirmed in part, the case was categorized according to the outcome of the religion-related issue.
  9. Penultimate Court of Appeals: The penultimate court(s) that the case was appealed from to the Supreme Court. To aggregate the data, state supreme courts are listed as “State Supreme Court” rather than the specific court name; however, district and appeal courts were listed with their full name.
  10. Penultimate Court Opinion Citation: The citation to the penultimate court opinion. In cases involving multiple penultimate opinions, the one most closely aligned with the Supreme Court case was included.
  11. Penultimate Court Opinion Link: Link to the penultimate court opinion cited. In some cases, the penultimate opinion was not available because it merely affirmed the lower court opinion without comment. In these cases, the lower court opinion link is included.