Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court update = Establishment Clause confusion

More Establishment Clause squishiness from the Supremes:
A split Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, ruling that two exhibits in Kentucky cross the line between separation of church and state because they promote a religious message.

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Justices left legal wiggle room, saying that some displays -- like their own courtroom frieze -- would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.
And no, I don't think reading the opinion will clarify anything.
The Establishment Clause jurisprudence has been a mess since the 1970s and the Court has never seriously endeavored to clean it up.

The split in this case: O'Connor plus the liberals (Souter, Breyer, Stevens, Ginsburg) majority; Kennedy and the conservatives (Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas) dissent.

UPDATE: Proof of the Court's schizophrenic Establishment Clause case law approach came in later this morning when the Court ruled in favor of allowing the Texas capitol to retain a Ten Commandments display on its grounds because the Court deemed the display as neutrally honoring Texas' legal history. Another 5-4 case but Breyer voted with Kennedy and the conservatives to form the majority.

Naturally, the Supreme Court's own Moses The Lawgiver frieze is OK (and it should be).

See also: Michelle Malkin, the Cap'n.

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