Copyright (c) 1997 Texas Wesleyan Law Review
Texas Wesleyan Law Review
NOTE & COMMENT: IN "A HIGHER POWER" WE TRUST: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AS A CONDITION OF PROBATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION
3 Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev. 443
Byron K. Henry
Alcoholics Anonymous ("AA") has become the standard for most alcohol rehabilitation programs. 1 This is due in no small part to imposition of attendance at AA meetings as a condition of probation for offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated and other alcohol related offenses, following a national trend toward rehabilitation and reintroduction of offenders into society. 2 Traditionally, these conditions were rarely questioned since probation itself was viewed as an act of mercy by the court that the offender was free to reject. 3 However, recent court decisions have brought into question the constitutionality of imposing AA as a condition of probation. 4 This comment attempts to answer three pertinent questions posed by the imposition of AA as a condition of probation. First, is AA "religion" for purposes of the Establishment Clause? Second, what is the current constitutional standard to be applied to AA as a condition of probation under the Establishment Clause? Third, applying the current standard, does imposition of AA violate the Establishment Clause?
Part I of this comment discusses probation and the substance of AA, as well as touches on the Supreme Court's attempts to define religion. Part II seeks to discern the proper constitutional standard to be applied to AA as a condition of probation from Supreme Court cases. Part III concentrates on the lower courts' application of the elusive Establishment Clause test. Finally, Part IV briefly highlights the shortcomings of the standards currently being applied to AA as a ...
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