This review offers a critical appraisal of God vs. the Gavel, in particular of Professor Hamilton's discussion of the complicated idea of the public good and how it intersects with religious free exercise interests. In Part II, the review explains the structure of the book and the framework for Hamilton's conclusions about religious accommodation. It emphasizes several instances of Hamilton's use and explanation of the concept of the public good. Part III articulates Hamilton's general theory of the public good, breaking the concept down into several distinct categories suggested by the book itself. The review critiques the book's explanation and application of the public good principle and suggests that it is an ambiguous and unstable concept, and one that often substitutes either for particular interests or the author's policy preferences on a variety of issues. Part IV offers some observations about the principal virtue of God vs. the Gavel: Professor Hamilton's bracing and illuminating exposition of the recent and ongoing abuses that have been justified in the name of free exercise of religion. The review concludes by considering whether religious interests can ever play a role in the determination of Hamilton's public good, and if so, in what way.
Marc O. DeGirolami, Recoiling from Religion, 43 SAN DIEGO L. REV. 619 (2006).