Subscribe to RSS - In the Courts

‘Under God’ Upheld: Appeals Court Says Pledge Is Patriotic, Not Religious

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that use of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the separation of church and state.

The 2-1 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest decision in a long-running legal campaign by Michael Newdow, a California atheist activist, to have “under God” declared unconstitutional. Read more

Dubious Display: Oklahoma County Religious Monument Violated Church-State Separation And Promoted Bad History

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday did us all a favor by declining to hear a case from Haskell County, Okla., concerning the display of the Ten Commandments on public property. Read more

Jesus Meets Einstein In Little Rock: You Don't Have To Be A Genius To Understand The Bill Of Rights

Ah, Christmas! The time of year when our thoughts turn to decorated holiday trees, presents, eggnog and Albert Einstein.

Wait a minute – Albert Einstein?

Yep, the theoretical physicist and all-around super-genius has become an official part of the holiday season, at least in Arkansas. Einstein will appear in a Solstice display at the state capitol in Little Rock, thanks to a recent ruling by a federal court. Read more

Getting Testy: Asheville Agitators Want To Deny Council Seat To Atheist

Part of my job here at Americans United is to correspond with the general public. Frequently I find myself engaged in answering the most basic of questions. I'm often explaining the significance of Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists wherein he coined the phrase "wall of separation between church and state." Read more

Christmas Clash: Religious Right Exploits Battles Over Symbols And Songs

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means. Yes, the malls will be crowded, but this time of year also means an escalation in the battles over how public schools and government deal with Christmas.

Some disputes have already erupted. In Chambersburg, Pa., the borough council voted unanimously to ban most displays from a public square rather than accommodate an atheist who wanted access to the space. Read more

Full Court Press: It's Time To Stop The Right Wing's Efforts To Block Judge Nominees

As president, one of Barack Obama's most important tasks is making appointments to the federal courts.

The Senate has a role to play too. They are to "advise and consent." If a judicial appointee is deemed unqualified, a majority of the Senate can vote him or her down.

Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Senate performed its role. Sotomayor, who had a long record of judicial service, now sits on the nation's top bench. Read more

The High Court And The Church-State Wall: Betsy Ross, Meet Sandra Day O'Connor

Prayers and patriotic songs reverberated through the air as I made my way to the Supreme Court yesterday morning. I exchanged a reticent glance with the police officer stationed outside the Library of Congress (just a block away), and he chuckled, as if to read my mind.

"Things are getting crazy over there," he warned, as I dug my notepad from my bag.

"Big case," I responded. Read more

A Cross – The Great Divide: Justices Seem Split On Calif. Religious Symbol Case

I spent the morning at the Supreme Court attending oral arguments in Salazar v. Buono – a case focusing on a cross on display in the Mojave National Preserve in California.

I'm not going to pretend I understand all of the ins and outs of this complex case because I'm not a lawyer. I rely on AU's legal team to do that. But I did garner a few impressions from the argument. Read more

Supreme Prejudice: Scalia Says Government Can Promote Religion

The U.S. Supreme Court is gearing up to come back into session Oct. 5, and just in time for that, Justice Antonin Scalia has decided to pop off in the media about how much he hates church-state separation – again!

In what is billed as an "Historic Exclusive Interview" in the Brooklyn-based Orthodox   Jewish newspaper Hamodia, Scalia attacks one of the core concepts of church-state separation – the idea that government must remain neutral between religion and non-religion. Read more

Pages