Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a statement saying that today's decision, while disappointing, is unlikely to affect most church-state litigation.
“This is a disappointing decision that blocks the courthouse door for Americans with legitimate church-state grievances,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Taxpayers should be allowed to challenge public funding of religion, whether the money is allocated by Congress or the White House.”From what I just heard on NPR, this may be an overly optimistic analysis. I think this ruling may open the door for future presidents to use discretionary funds to support religious pet projects, fueling the growing trend of pandering to religious groups (i.e., Brownbacking).
"However," Lynn continued, "it is important to note that this ruling applies to only a few situations. Most church-state lawsuits, including those that challenge congressional appropriations for faith-based programs, will not be affected."
The statement issued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation was consistent with my somewhat more pessimistic take on this ruling.
"This means we have a constitutional separation between church and state, but no way to enforce it if the executive branch chooses to violate it with 'discretionary' actions," added Dan Barker, a plaintiff and Foundation co-president. The Foundation is the largest association of atheists and agnostics in the U.S., whose 10,000 members work to keep church and state separate.Needless to say, I am disappointed with this ruling and will be interested in the legal analysis sure to follow.
Tags: Hein v. FFRF, church and state, law, legal, Supreme Court, Bush, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, religion, faith-based, politics, Brownbacking