Thursday, December 29, 2005

Finally, Some Sanity From the Courts

The grinch hasn't got his claws in everywhere. A panel of the 6th circuit recently issued a decision in ACLU v Mercer County, including this:
the ACLU makes repeated reference to “the separation of church and state.” This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state. See Lynch, 465 U.S. at 673; Lemon, 403 U.S. at 614; Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 312 (1952); Brown v. Gilmore, 258 F.3d 265, 274 (4th Cir. 2001); Stark v. Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 640., 123 F.3d 1068, 1076 (8th Cir. 1997); see also Capitol Square, 243 F.3d at 300 (dismissing strict separatism as “a notion that simply perverts our history”). Our Nation’s history is replete with governmental acknowledgment and in some cases, accommodation of religion. See, e.g., Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding legislative prayer); McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961) (upholding Sunday closing laws); see also Lynch, 465 U.S. at 674 (“There is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789.”); Capitol Square, 243 F.3d at 293-99 (describing historical examples of governmental involvement with religion). After all, “[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.” Zorach, 343 U.S. at 313. Thus, state recognition of religion that falls short of endorsement is constitutionally permissible.
For an organisation that claims to hold the first amendment dear, it would behoove the ACLU to stick to its actual language, rather than drag in a phrase like “separation of church and state” that is more at home in KKK propaganda than in the constitution.

(H/T: Major Scarlet at Silent Running)

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