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Ellis McKinney West
Emeritus Professor of Political Science

Dr. West's research focuses on the meaning of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, as they were originally understood and as they have been interpreted by the U. S. Supreme Court.

Selected Publications

The Free Exercise of Religion in America: Its Original Constitutional Meaning. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019.

The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment: Guarantees of States' Rights? Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.


"Religious Freedom Legislation in the 2013 Virginia General Assembly." Richmond Journal of Law and the Public Interest, 17 (2013-2014): 439-86.

The Right to Religion-Based Exemptions in Early America: The Case of Conscientious Objectors to Conscription. Journal of Law and Religion, 10 (1993-1994): 367-401."

The Case Against a Right to Religion-Based Exemptions. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, and Public Policy, 4 (1990): 591-638.


"Due Process," "Establishment of Religion and Free Exercise Clauses," "Everson v. Board of Education, 330 US 1 (1947)," "Religious Tests for Office-holding (Article 6, Cl. 3)," "State Action Doctrine," and "United States v. Seeger, 380 US 163 (1965)." In Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. 3 vols. Ed. Paul Finkelman. N.Y.: Routledge, 2006.

Additional Publications

"Catholic Claims Stretch the First Amendment." Op-ed in Richmond Times-Dispatch, (Feb. 19, 2012).

"Religious Freedom: Virginia Doesn't Need a New Statute." Op-ed in Richmond Times-Dispatch, (Feb. 7, 2009).

Ph.D., Emory University 1971
M.A., Emory University 1966
B.A., University of Richmond 1958
Contact Information
Weinstein Hall
Areas of Expertise
Political Theory
Constitutional Law and History
Religion and Government