Yesterday, in a highly split decision with six separate opinions, the United States Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling in Salazar v. Buono. The issue at hand? Whether the location of the Mojave Memorial Cross represented an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The Ninth Circuit decided that it did, but its ruling has been called into question by the high court on several levels. [more inside]
James Corbett, a California high-school educator of twenty years, has been found guilty of violating the establishment clause of the first amendment. The lawsuit (PDF) was brought to a U.S. District Court on December 12th, 2007 by student Chad Farnan and his parents with the aid of the legal group 'Advocates for Faith and Freedom' against Corbett and the Capistrano Unified School District as a result of comments made which were critical of Christianity. During the sixteen month legal battle, hundreds of students in support of the teacher demonstrated outside the school while the Farnan family appealed to opinion outlets like 'The O'Reilly Factor'. [more inside]
The previously-mentioned Summums want to place their own monument in a park which contains the Ten Commandments, making the Supreme Court's heads explode in a a hilariously weird oral argument[pdf]: "Scalia: I don't know what that means. You keep saying it, and I don't know what it means. [...] Breyer: Suppose that there certain messages that private people had like "eat vitamins"—and then somebody comes along with a totally different content, "ride the roller coaster," and they say this part of the park is designed to get healthy children, not put children at risk." [more inside]
A very big day for the Supreme Court. In Morse v. Fredrick, the Court ruled that a school could suspend a child for holding up a "Bong HiTs for Jesus" banner. (Previous post here). In Hein v. Freedom from Religion, the Court held that taxpayers lacked standing to challenged Faith Based Initiatives (previous discussions). In Wilke v. Robbins, the Court held that land owners do not have Bivens claims if the federal government harasses landowners for easements. In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Court held that the portion of the campaign finance law which had blackout periods before elections on issue advocacy advertising was an unconstitutional restriction of speech (other). This Thursday, the Justices will deliver their last opinions of the term, including a death penalty case and the school assignment cases. (Opinions are .pdfs)
Federalism and Faith. [more inside]
"We make no distinction between a small violation of the Constitution and a large one. Both are equally invalid. Indeed, in the system of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we abhor the small violation precisely because it is precedent for the larger one." (PDF) By a 5-2 count, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that public monies may not be used to fund private schools, thus closing off avenues for embezzlement and violations of the Establishment Clause that otherwise prevents a US state from endorsing, or establishing specific religious organizations.