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Fifty Years Of Freedom: Celebrating The Supreme Court’s Decision Against Coercive Religion In Public Schools

Fifty years ago today, the U.S. Supreme handed down one of its most important church-state rulings. In School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, the high court ruled 8-1 that state-mandated programs of Bible reading and prayer in public schools are unconstitutional.

Five decades later, the ruling in Schempp (and its companion case, Murray v. Curlett) remains widely misunderstood. Part of this is due to a deliberate campaign of misinformation by Religious Right groups, which have distorted the scope of the decision.

Church, State And Marriage Equality

 

After voters in Washington state approved marriage equality in November, Lar­ry Duncan and Randell Shepherd of North Bend were among the first batch of couples to apply for a license.

A photo of the two bearded and burly men wearing plaid flannel shirts and camouflage baseball caps as they applied for a wedding license went viral on the internet. The image was both ordinary and extraordinary, and people were charmed that the stereotypical portrait of married couples in America had been expanded to include couples like Duncan and Shepherd.

High Noon At The High Court: Supreme Court Takes Up Marriage Equality

I was fortunate enough to snag a seat in the press gallery for the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court this morning in the Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Prop. 8 was narrowly approved by California voters in 2008. It added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. Opponents are challenging it in court, asserting that it violates the rights of gays and lesbians who wish to marry.

Supreme Court Made The Right Call In Refusing California Cross Case, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Mt. Soledad Cross Does Not Memorialize All War Dead

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it will not hear a long-running controversy over a 43-foot-tall cross displayed on government-owned property in San Diego.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State welcomed the court’s refusal of the case. The Christian cross, Americans United says, is not an appropriate symbol to memorialize deceased veterans of many different faith perspectives.

Courtroom Drama: Supreme Court Debates Limits Of The ‘Ministerial Exception’

The first Monday in October was just two days ago, and if you’re a law junkie, you know what that means: The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session.

This morning, the high court heard oral arguments in the only church-state case on its docket so far. The case, Hosanna Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC, deals with some fairly complex issues but is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Impaired Judgment: Justice Scalia Just Doesn’t Know When To Stop Talking

It didn’t get much attention, but Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave an interesting address recently at a Catholic university in Pittsburgh.

Scalia spoke at an event marking the 100th anniversary of Duquesne University Law School. It was the usual lament from the ultra-conservative justice: American society is going hell because not enough people agree with Scalia.

Access Denied: Supreme Court Slams The Courthouse Door In The Face Of Church-State Litigants

Thanks to yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, it will now be a lot easier for the government to fund religion.

The high court, in a 5-4 decision in Arizona Christian Tuition Organization v. Winn, ruled that taxpayers have no right to challenge tax credits, exemptions or deductions that support religious organizations.

The Phelps Decision: Supreme Court Decision Undercuts Religious Right Lie

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the right of Westboro Baptist Church to picket near the funerals of soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In any writing about Westboro Baptist, it is important to immediately make it clear that the messages from Pastor Fred Phelps and his family are vile, obnoxious and disgusting. But, as the high court has made clear, even jerks have free-speech rights.

Tax Credit Tangle: Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Ariz. Religious School Aid

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in an important case dealing with government aid to religion.

Two issues are at stake in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. The high court will decide whether an Arizona program that gives taxpayers a 100 percent credit for money they donate to private organizations that provide private school vouchers is constitutional.

The justices will also determine whether taxpayers have the right to challenge the program – a legal doctrine known as “standing.”

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