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First Test: Sotomayor Will Help Decide Fate Of Cross In California Park

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, the third woman and the first Latina to ever serve as a justice.

It's a historical milestone, and Americans United is looking forward to watching the new justice in action, particularly when it comes to church-state issues.

As we have mentioned before, we know very little about Sotomayor's views on our issues. That will change in upcoming months. Read more

Never on a Sunday?: Mandatory Closing Laws Make Some S.C. Merchants Feel Blue

My wife went to grad school in North Carolina. She wasn't much of a drinker (at least that's what she tells me now), but she and her roommate did enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner every so often.

On Monday through Saturday, they could buy a bottle of vino any time the grocery store was open. On Sunday, they had to wait until noon. My wife remembers being forced once to wait 15 minutes before she could check out a large grocery order because her shopping cart included a bottle of wine.

Welcome to the wacky world of blue laws! Read more

A Tale Of Two Cities (And Diagrams): Ten Commandments Battles Roil Kentucky And North Dakota

My roommate is a freshly minted high school teacher. Sometimes, while sitting together watching reruns of "Doogie Howser, MD.," I help her plan civics lessons for her students. If it weren't the middle of the summer, I would insist that she craft a Venn Diagram with her kids to teach about the separation of church and state. Read more

Sorting Out Sotomayor: Church-State Experts Wait For Answers, While The Southern Baptists Plunge Ahead

As you may have noticed, Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings continue today.

We've heard a lot of griping about her "wise Latina" remark and her decision in the Ricci case, as well as witnessed outbursts from anti-abortionist protestors.

But to our knowledge, we have yet to hear anyone ask her about her views on church and state issues. Read more

Monumental Mistake: Officials In Okla. County Should Abide By Court Ruling

I'm always surprised when people in the heartland of America – conservative folks who claim to love their country and its institutions – display contempt for the rule of law.

Consider the case of Haskell County, Okla. A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that an eight-foot-high Ten Commandments monument erected in front of the courthouse in 2004 must come down. The monument, the court declared, violates the separation of church and state. Read more

The First 100 Days: President Obama's Scorecard On Church And State

I guess it's a little impertinent for me to issue a report card for President Barack Obama on his performance during his first 100 days in office. I'm not his teacher, and he's not my student.

But what the heck? It's a free country and everyone else is doing it. So here goes.

I'm focusing on issues with church-state implications. Somebody else can tackle the other topics. Read more

Unconstitutional Chorus: Federal Judge Says Fla. School Struck Sour Note With Promotion Of Right-Wing Religious Song

U.S. District Judge Harvey E. Schlesinger of northern Florida is one smart guy.

On Wednesday, he gave a Florida public school quite a scolding, followed by a very important constitutional law lesson.

Two teachers at the school included a song called "In God We Still Trust" by the country group Diamond Rio into the program of a third-grade class' end-of-the-year assembly. Read more

Lone Star Disgrace: Texas Science Educator Loses Lawsuit Over Ouster

The Texas State Board of Education has been wrangling over evolution for months now. Recently, board members spent two full days squabbling over new science standards and   fighting over concepts such as common descent and natural selection.

The results were decidedly mixed. Some of the most obnoxious proposals failed to pass, but critics fear there is some overly vague language in the new standards that could open the door to creationist concepts in public schools. Read more

Controversy Over College Cash: Another Reminder That Controls Follow Funds

Back in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of some conservative Christian students at the University of Virginia who sought money from a student activity fund to publish a Christian magazine.

The decision in Rosenberger v. University of Virginia was a close 5-4, and the right-wing groups that backed the students were full of glee. They had finally succeeded in putting a few chinks in the wall of separation between church and state – at Thomas Jefferson's university, no less. Read more

Real Justice: Change Comes To Nation's Top Law-Enforcement Agency

Change is in the air at the U.S. Department of Justice – and it looks like it'll be for the good.

The Senate has confirmed Eric Holder at the nation's new attorney general. Holder has vowed to reverse course from many Bush administration policies. Most of the attention has focused on issues such as closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay and torture, but it looks as though the legal landscape for church-state separation is also due for an overhaul. Read more

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