Monday, June 27, 2005

SCOTUS rules against G-d; heads will probably roll

In a stunning decision announced today, the Supreme Court of the US ruled that Ten Commandment displays such at the ones at Kentucky court houses do promote a religious message and are a violation of the first amendment. The court is expected to rule on a similar case, in which granite monuments were erected in Texas, today as well.
“The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

“When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates tha central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality,” he said.
The vote was split as predicted, with Sandra Day O'Connor expected to be the target of the Repubevangelical ire (and probably the next proposal for a constitutional amendment or proposal to repeal the current first amendment).

Presumptive future Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, who is the biggest supporter of these displays, voted to rule that the displays due not violate the first amendment despite asserting that they do, indeed, promote a religious message
Even though Scalia was supportive, he chided Abbott at one point for downplaying the religious meaning of the Ten Commandments. It would be a “pyrrhic victory,” Scalia said, if Ten Commandment displays were allowed on the theory that they were secular. “Our laws come from God. If you don’t believe it sends that message, you’re kidding yourself.
Despite the deeply religious message that he agrees is undeniably promoted, Scalia is on record as having said that the fist amendment only affords protection from establishing one denomination of a religion as an official state religion but that a particular religion (Christianity) can be declared (and is) as such. US Solicitor Paul Clement who presented the cases in favor of the displays, stated the commandments are undeniably religious but that they have "secular significance" and there is no state endorsement of the text.

This is not the first time this year a court has ruled in a manner that directly contradicted the expressed wishes of the President, Republican Party and fundagelical movement. In the not too distant past, Republican Leadership has used fiery rhetoric and threats against sitting judges. I'm sure the political fall-out from this will be spectacular, despite today's weasley "take these situations on a case by case basis" ruling by SCOTUS.

UPDATE 27Jun05 12:30: and, as expected, heir presumptive, Justice Antonin Scalia released a hissy of a dissent to the earlier, Kentucky, ruling
"What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."
but must be heartened by
Sandra Day O'Connor Stephen Breyer swinging in support of allowing the granite monuments at Texas courthouses to stay, since this put her squarely on his side of the debate. The most disconcerting part to the dissenters in the Kentucky case and the majority in the Texas case is the fact that those in support of the religious displays admit that the displays are inherently religious but that the promotion of a message consistent with religious doctrine using inherently religious symbolism/text does not constitute a violation of the first amendment.
“Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious — they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument therefore has religious significance,” Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority in the case involving the display outside the state capitol of Texas.

“Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause,” he said.
This is in direct contrast with opinions of previous courts in which the promotion of a religious message was the point at which the line was crossed and was considered state endorsement of religion. Apparently, the first amendment allows you choose your own religion and follow it to the best of your abilities but it no longer prevents the state from stepping in ensure you know they endorse and support Christianity and a belief in G-d over the loser beliefs of non-Christians. This will only further establish the fundagelical movement's ability to use the government to ensure you have no right to avoid proselytizing (or prevent your children being proselytized to without your consent or knowledge) except in private homes/establishments (until the government exerts its power of eminent domain, that is).

Tags: ; ; ;; ;

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: