Supreme Court Should Allow Taxpayer Lawsuit Against Bush 'faith-based' Office, Says Americans United

High Court To Hear Oral Arguments In Case Over Citizens' Right To Challenge Government Support Of Religion In Court

The U.S. Supreme Court should preserve the right of taxpayers to file lawsuits challenging government support of religion, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation. In the case, three Wisconsin taxpayers have challenged President George W. Bush’s creation of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and other promotion of his “faith-based” agenda.

In its response, the Bush administration argued that general operating funds were used for the faith-based endeavors and that taxpayers have no constitutional right to challenge the actions.

Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that taxpayers must have access to the courts to challenge government expenditures on religion. An array of Religious Right organizations has sided with the Bush administration.

Said Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, “Taxpayers must have the right to make their case in court when the government oversteps its bounds and uses public funds to promote religion. After all, it’s the taxpayers’ money we’re talking about here.

“Don’t slam the courthouse door in the face of Americans who are merely trying to maintain their constitutional rights,” Lynn continued. “Government funding of religion is not only improper, but unconstitutional.”

The Hein case comes to the high court from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the taxpayers. Experts say the issue before the justices is narrow, but significant, and it is the first concerning religious liberty to be heard by the most recent appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Lynn and other Americans United legal experts will be available before and following the Hein arguments at the Supreme Court to provide expert commentary on the importance of the case.

News media may contact the Americans United Communications Department at (202) 466-3234 to arrange interviews.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.