AHA News |  

Court Gives Executive Branch Free Pass to Violate First Amendment

June 25, 2007

 

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court today passed a ruling that severely curtails the ability of taxpayers to sue when government violates the separation of church and state. In Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Supreme Court found that lawsuits against the federal government's executive branch for unconstitutionally promoting religion can no longer be filed on behalf of taxpayers. A previous 1968 ruling found that taxpayers could sue when the Congress spent money on religion, a special exception that had been carved out in order to address this constitutional issue.

"The Supreme Court's decision allows the Executive Branch to steamroll over the Establishment Clause and spend our money to promote sectarian causes," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "The faith-based initiatives office is a case in point. Our money is being funneled to religious groups, who use that money to proselytize. But no longer do taxpayers have a right to challenge such cases of unconstitutional use of their hard-earned dollars."

In Justice Souter's dissent, he wrote, "When executive agencies spend identifiable sums of tax money for religious purposes, no less than when Congress authorizes the same thing, taxpayers suffer injury."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation's original suit was challenging the constitutionality of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. "Bush's religious beliefs drive many of these initiatives," explained Speckhardt. Faith-based initiatives funding went to the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA, whose mission (according to its website) is to "assist those who are struggling with addiction [to] become free through the Power of God." This church was highlighted by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address as a model for this government program, even though they rely "solely on the foundation of the Word of God to break the bands of addiction."

"The Supreme Court makes the distinction between illegal actions performed by the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch," Speckhardt continued. "But there should be no such distinction. A violation of the First Amendment should be heard in a court of law, not protected by this new Court which is placing political and religious ideas over that of their mandate to protect the Constitution."

Justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, Roberts, and Thomas were in the majority, marking another time the new court has been narrowly divided with all Catholic Justices in the majority. Scalia and Thomas said they would have gone further and overturned the 1968 ruling.

# # #

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.

American Humanist Association

Check out what the AHA staff is watching! http://thehumanist.com/arts_entertain...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here's another installment of Carl Coon’s ongoing “A Short History of Evolution”...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Five Non-Magic Words: “How Can I Help You?” Advancing the Humanist Chaplaincy h...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia C...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new affiliate, Deltona Humanist, to the American Humani...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Idaho Humanists, check out this Summer Day Camp for Kids! For more information...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out Executive Director Roy Speckhardt's new Huffpost article, Pandora's Bo...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Freedom from Religion in Kazakhstan: An Interview with Atheist Blogger Aleksand...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today is A. Philip Randolph's 125th birthday. He was the American Humanist Assoc...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Did you know about some of these official State Symbols? http://thehumanist.com...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanevangelist: Skyfall, Humanist Style by Clay Farris Naff. http://thehu...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Would you, or someone you know, be a good fit for the American Humanist Associat...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an interesting letter to the editor of The Press Enterprise. http://www...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy 271st Birthday Thomas Jefferson! Read Jefferson's wall of separation lett...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good so there are options... Happy Friday Everyone!! http://obscureinternet....

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Bible According to Thomas Jefferson. http://thehumanist.com/magazine/march...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are getting ready! Are you? Register today! http://conference.americanhumani...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Inheriting the Wind by Daniel Thomas Moran! http://thehumanist.com/arts_enterta...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! What did the July/August, 1981 issue of the Humanist magazi...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Oh good! Now we can all relax... Science is here! Four Blood Moons: Total Lunar...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out this info-graph from the Public Religion Research Institute. http://...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Rules Are for Schmucks: House Rules. By Luis Granados http://thehumanist.com/ne...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Another installment of Carl Coon's A Short History of Evolution. This week's top...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Matthew Bulger reports from On The Hill. http://thehumanist.com/news/nati...

11 days ago