February 27, 2007


A breach in the church-state wall: A case before the US Supreme Court could deal a sharp blow to the separation of church and state (Andrew B. Coan, 2/28/07, CS Monitor)

The plaintiffs are ordinary citizens who object to their federal tax dollars being used to fund the president's program for "faith-based and community initiatives." [...]

[A[t this stage, the Bush administration is asking the court to throw the case out on grounds that ordinary taxpayers have no legal interest in how the executive branch spends public money.

It seems like the kind of dry, legalistic dispute that only a lawyer could love. But the appearance is deceiving. If the court grants the administration's request, it will eliminate what is often the only effective mechanism for challenging financial support of religion by the executive branch. The effect would be to grant the president and his staff, as well as the vast federal bureaucracy, a license to preach.

Kind of an odd notion that a license is needed, if not anticonstitutional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2007 8:24 PM

"Wall" is such a clich├ęd and inapt metaphor here. The separation is not fixed nor impermeable or even clearly visible in many cases. Most of us can agree on much of what sits on one side or the other, but what's between them is more like a dense fogbank over shifting sands.

Theocons notwithstanding, there is an important and Constitutional distinction here. Still, anyone who claims "faith-based and community initiatives" are a large or new "breach" of a "wall" doesn't know what they're talking about. The G.I. Bill paid for my Dad to go to a Jesuit-run college. How's that essentially different from a "faith-based initiative"?

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 28, 2007 12:40 AM

Leave it to the tired-out and flagging Bush Adminstration to argue this on the wrong grounds.

From a simple ideological perspective, your typical American should have standing to defend the First Amendment. Even if correct based upon some past decision, the argument the Administration is making unpopular on its face.

It would be better to argue that the court should finally decide that matter of "Establishing a Religion." and be done with that battle once and for all.

On its face, funding various institutions of various religions for clearly Constitutional purposes cannot be "establishing A religion.

If America has an "Established Religion" it is secular humanism, and it is preached exclusively in mandated public schools. But going after that one will have to wait until we get a 6-3 court.

Posted by: Bruno at February 28, 2007 1:26 AM


You're arguing tertiary matters when there's a core constitutional principle at stake.

Posted by: oj at February 28, 2007 7:53 AM