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Victoria Silverwolf
If there's already a thread about this, I can't find it. I don't know about you, but these decisions made huge headlines in newspapers around here.

Link

QUOTE
Today the United States Supreme Court issued split decisions on the Ten Commandments. In the Texas case of Van Orden v. Perry, the Court upheld a Ten Commandments monument that has been on the state capital grounds without any controversy for about forty years. In the Kentucky case of McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision which ruled against the Ten Commandments displays. In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Souter, and joined by Justices Stephens, O’Connor, Ginsburg and Breyer, the Court upheld the lower court’s decision in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky which ruled against the Ten Commandments displays. Justice Scalia, joined by Justices Thomas, Rehnquist and Kennedy dissented with Justice Scalia reading his dissent from the bench to emphasize his disagreement with the Court's opinion. In the majority opinion, Justice Souter said that the ruling does not mean that a sacred text can never be integrated into a governmental display on law and history.


Obvious question for debate:

Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?

With two very close decisions, which seem at first glance to contradict each other, this is obviously a very controversial issue. I would have preferred a stronger message from the Court against such displays. However, I can't get too upset. The differences between the two cases make it clear that the Court holds that a display of religious artifacts on government property which has the primary purpose of promoting a religious belief is not Constitutionally permitted. A religious artifact which is clearly intended only as part of an historical display is Constitutionally OK. This really seems like splitting hairs, but I respect the opinion of the Court, and I can live with it.
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hayleyanne
Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?

The Court most definitely got it wrong. My criticism of the opinion has nothing to do with the result, but rather with the way it arrived at the result.

The Court purports to apply the neutrality principle from Lemon in both of these 10 commandments cases. The problem is two fold:

(1) the neutrality principle or Lemon test itself is not constitutionally based;

(2) the Court does not apply the neutrality principle consistently in its establishment clause jurisprudence.

For these two reasons, we wind up with a judicial decree of the highest order that is neither rooted in the Constitution nor consistently applied.

Scalia gets it right when he concludes that the real reason why the Court refused to follow through completely and consistently in its application of the neutrality principle (which of course would require sandblasting away every reference to God in a government milieu) is simple: self preservation.

QUOTE
What, then, could be the genuine good reason  for occasionally ignoring the neutrality principle? I suggest it is the instinct for self preservation,
and the recognition that the Court, which has no influence over either the sword or the purse, . . . , cannot go too far down the road of an enforced neutrality that contradicts both historical fact and current practice without losing all that sustains it: the willingness of the people to accept its interpretation of the Constitution as definitive, in preference to the contrary interpretation of the democratically
elected branches.


Constitutional jurisprudence is supposed to be rooted in the Constitution and based in consistently applied principles. The Constitution either prohibits something or it doesn't. It cannot be read to permit something one day and prohibit it the next, depending on the direction the Justices guage the political winds to be blowing.
Artemise
I disagree although I will admit to not understanding a bunch of mumbo jumbo jargon, noone is going to allow me to place an 8 ft statue of The Happy Buddha on State government grounds to memorialize all the chinese and immigrant workers that helped build his country, so Scalia is simply biased to his own religion and not thinking about if everyone desired or demanded SAME rights to religious freedom of displayed iconography on all public grounds.

To me the ruling is clear (and a most equitable compromise) that amongst 'other' statues the 10 Commandments may appear as part of our history (cough) on display, however standing alone in a Hall of Law, may not. It seems a reasonable separation of church and state, and Heyleyanne, guards against that judge that commisioned a granite slab of the 10 commandments at the entrance of the Court of Law. We have to guard against this sort of thing, dont you agree? Or shall we bend towards the trend towards theocracy that the Founders so despised?
Doclotus
Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?
The decisions seem wishy washy to me. The only conclusion that can be drawn about the constitutionality of the 10 commandments on government property out of these two decisions is: it depends. Now, that answer *might* be acceptable if the conditions set forth were clear, but they are not. Once again they are subject to interpretation as to what is "historical", my like trying to figure out what "obscene" is. I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it tongue.gif

The court is on a roll right now for not making much sense, or sensible decisions...
bucket
QUOTE
Constitutional jurisprudence is supposed to be rooted in the Constitution and based in consistently applied principles. The Constitution either prohibits something or it doesn't. It cannot be read to permit something one day and prohibit it the next, depending on the direction the Justices guage the political winds to be blowing.


So intent is of no consideration? What the intent was for one display can and will differ from what the intent was of another. I would imagine that most of us could easily discern this for ourselves. If I saw some guys up at my county courthouse erecting religious symbols or references to bible teachings I would imagine their intent was religious in nature. If I then watched them stand in front of it night after night demanding that our "shared" religious teachings must be recognized...being a minority in all this sharing..I would feel undoubtedly excluded.

Would I then feel threatened?...sure. What if I was to appear in court and I see Christian teachings or symbolism and knowing I am not a Christian I might feel at a disadvantage. What if then the prosecutor of my case hones in on my lack of Christian faith..and the jurors day after day entering a court which displays Christian teachings and beliefs as fundamental to the law..I might perhaps be placed at a disadvantage..perhaps the state/county's character assassination or projection of me as immoral might be placed at an advantage....yes?
Do I then believe that such displays could be made without such intent...sure. Context is often very important.

That is why I personally believe the court got it right..not only do I feel the intent behind these newer displays is an intent to corrupt the line between church and state I personally feel it is an intent to exclude those of us who do not adhere to Christianity.

And to be honest I am a fairly lax atheist. I have no problem with my kids pledging to god..I have told them it is like or the same as cross my heart hope to die...just signifies importance or seriousness. But when I see such actions as what was attempted in Kentucky I feel in a sense exclusion and I am concerned as to how I would be treated or viewed before the state. If my mortality or adherence to the law ever came into question ..I feel such prominent displays by the state would then in return display me in the hands of the state as inferior or possibly even corrupt.
aevans176
QUOTE(Artemise @ Jun 29 2005, 09:04 AM)
To me the ruling is clear (and a most equitable compromise) that amongst 'other' statues the 10 Commandments may appear as part of our history (cough) on display, however standing alone in a Hall of Law, may not. It seems a reasonable separation of church and state, and Heyleyanne, guards against that judge that commisioned a granite slab of the 10 commandments at the entrance of the Court of Law. We have to guard against this sort of thing, dont you agree? Or shall we bend towards the trend towards theocracy that the Founders so despised?
*



Theocracy that our founders despised?
I don't disagree that our founding fathers attempted to seperate church and state, and our nation was founded partly in order to escape religious persecution. However, the 10 Commandments and biblical ideology often slip into American law and history. Ever heard the words "thou shalt not kill"??Thou shalt not steal?? Remember the blue laws??? We used to close our stores and businesses on Sundays in rememberance of the Sabbath. Hmmm...

What about divorce law? thou shalt not covet your neighbors wife??? We still punish infidelity horribly during divorce proceedings? Why??? I can only imagine... hmmm.gif
What do other cultures do?

Consider the difference between law in the US and, let's say Saudi Arabia. Are men jailed in Saudi for hitting their wives? I think you'd be hard pressed to find arrest records for spousal abuse in Middle Eastern Nations. I think you'd be hard pressed to find punishment for men cheating on their wives, etc.

Call it Mumbo jumbo. Make crazy assertions that the founding fathers weren't religious men, etc. Our history is entwined with biblical assertions, and the 10 Commandments aren't necessarily horrible things to live by....

I think that people ought to make more of an effort to live by these commandments, as maybe our children might be less likely to shoot each other, we might be less interested in Prozac and Dr. Phil, and maybe the court systems might have to worry more about crime and less about taking great rules to live by off their walls...
CruisingRam
In my art class it was pointed out that about 80% of all public buildings have some religous art on it- whether it be of greek mythology or victorian christian art.

When religious stuff is used as decoration, I have no problem- when it is used to proseletyze, I have a problem.

I have tried to read the decision through, I think I need some more time to digest it- because one part of Scalia's comments may be right- the supremes are not going all the way because of a possible backlash by the religious right- which highlights more than ever our need for further seperation.

It is a very confusing and contridictory ruling, with no side in this being consistant, except Scalia's usual wish to see us living under a theocracy.

Hey aevans- what about the part about no other gods before me? we going to enforce that one as well? Time to start killing non-believers? Going to pick and choose which parts of the commandments you like now? or which ones to enforce?
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Artemise)
noone is going to allow me to place an 8 ft statue of The Happy Buddha on State government grounds to memorialize all the chinese and immigrant workers that helped build his country, so Scalia is simply biased to his own religion and not thinking about if everyone desired or demanded SAME rights to religious freedom of displayed iconography on all public grounds.

How do you get Scalia being biased here? He's the one saying that the court should be consistent.

As for erecting an 8 foot tall Happy Buddha on state grounds, why in the world should that be a problem? I don't understand. It's the (theocratic!!) Taliban that had the problem with Buddha statues, if you remember what they did in 2001, blowing up the world's tallest standing Buddhas? There are plenty of Buddhas on state grounds in the USA. There are Buddha statues in Golden Gate State Park, if I remember correctly.

QUOTE(Artemise @ Jun 29 2005, 09:04 AM)
Or shall we bend towards the trend towards theocracy that the Founders so despised?
As aevans176 noted, many of our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. It's hard to make a law that isn't making some kind of moral judgement. To make the leap that morals = theocracy seems a bit strong.


QUOTE(Doclotus @ Jun 29 2005, 09:16 AM)
Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?
The decisions seem wishy washy to me. The only conclusion that can be drawn about the constitutionality of the 10 commandments on government property out of these two decisions is: it depends. Now, that answer *might* be acceptable if the conditions set forth were clear, but they are not. Once again they are subject to interpretation as to what is "historical", my like trying to figure out what "obscene" is. I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it  tongue.gif

The court is on a roll right now for not making much sense, or sensible decisions...
I agree completely, and I think you've nailed it with the obscenity comparison. The best idea I've heard yet to protest this split decision is to, um, erect a pornographic monument alongside every 10 Commandments statue, or to put a hard core pornographic poster next to every paper copy on the wall. Then, every time the 10 Commandments is challenged, have someone file suit against the obscenity. This way, the courts will be forced to defend the "first Amendment rights" of the obscenity at the same time they decry the "theocracy" of the 10 Commandments. Then we the people can see how things work and change the laws accordingly.
bucket
QUOTE(CruisingRam)
I have tried to read the decision through, I think I need some more time to digest it- because one part of Scalia's comments may be right- the supremes are not going all the way because of a possible backlash by the religious right- which highlights more than ever our need for further seperation.


I don't feel that is the case at all. This ruling was an absolute affront to the religious right...not that they will interpret it this way..but it is. The decision was based on intent or the purpose of the displays. Any further attempts by the religious fanatics in this nation to further erect their religious teachings on state grounds will be found unconstitutional based on the SC ruling.

As for the cries for absolutism and the comparisons to obscenity. Why not just have the court ban all public displays of nudity or the nude body since it can be used obscenely.
There is a reason it appears wishy washy because it is wishy washy...and that is fine with me. Personally I am thankful our law often recognizes that our society is not singular or absolute.

Also this ruling in regards to Kentucky was not based on the first amend. in it's entirety but rather the ESTABLISHMENT ( edited this I first said free exercise ..er) clause which does define or uphold religion as needing more protection or safeguards. So I don't feel obscenity laws really are very helpful in understanding these rulings.
Artemise
QUOTE
We used to close our stores and businesses on Sundays in rememberance of the Sabbath. Hmmm...


Yes, this is truly interesting, because the Sabbath has always been from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday, until the ROMAN government changed GODS law to Sunday for convenience. Imagine that.

What part of THEOCRACY doesnt anyone understand? And what does the Taliban have to do with this?
QUOTE
There are plenty of Buddhas on state grounds in the USA. There are Buddha statues in Golden Gate State Park, if I remember correctly.

Please do come up with some backing for this. EDITED TO ADD: There is a Buddha statue in Golden Gate Park. Come up with another perhaps on government ground?
QUOTE
Are men jailed in Saudi for hitting their wives?


QUOTE
I think you'd be hard pressed to find punishment for men cheating on their wives, etc.


What are you talking about? But since you brought it up, cock fighting is a would be felony in South Carolina and domestic abuse is a misdemeanor. Thats how brilliant our system is. I think youd be hard pressed to find punishment for men cheating on their wives in the US either, trust me I know. Besides that, its completely irrelevant. Nothing to do with the theocracy taking over this country, thinking it has a right, which it DOES NOT.
http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3233130&nav=0RaMYral

May I ask WHAT you all are arguing for? Do you want complete access for religious iconography or none at all?

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carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Artemise @ Jun 29 2005, 10:51 AM)
QUOTE
We used to close our stores and businesses on Sundays in rememberance of the Sabbath. Hmmm...


Yes, this is truly interesting, because the Sabbath has always been from sundown Friday through sundown Saturday, until the ROMAN government changed GODS law to Sunday for convenience. Imagine that.
We also write the Ten Commandments in roman letters now (for convenience and readability).

QUOTE
What part of THEOCRACY doesnt anyone understand? And what does the Taliban have to do with this?
QUOTE
There are plenty of Buddhas on state grounds in the USA. There are Buddha statues in Golden Gate State Park, if I remember correctly.

Please do come up with some backing for this. Its not that I dont think its possible, I just would love to know. I have seen most parts of Golden Gate park, perhaps I missed something, but Ill take ANY Buddha on state grounds that you have to offer.



I only mentioned the Taliban because they came to mind when you said "theocracy" and introduced the concept of banned Buddha statues. They seemed a pretty good example to me, no offense intended. Here is the statue I was thinking of - in Golden Gate Park


QUOTE
I think youd be hard pressed to find punishment for men cheating on their wives in the US either, trust me I know.
I bet cheating men going through a divorce proceeding would disagree with this.
Artemise
QUOTE
Theocracy that our founders despised?


One resounding Hell YES.

Henry the 8th decided that because he could not divorce his Spanish Queen under Catholic law he would keep her in a tower and create a NEW CHURCH, then beheaded the next few wives under the Church of England, ( becoming the most undateable man in England). This and further barbarity is from which the Puritans and Revolutionaries came to America AGAINST. It was state sanctioned religion, taxed and oppressive, an oligarchy, which we are edging towards:
QUOTE
Oligarchy is a form of government where most political power effectively rests with a small segment of society (typically the most powerful, whether by wealth, military strength, ruthlessness, or political influence). The word oligarchy is from the Greek for "few" and "rule". Some political theorists have argued that all societies are inevitably oligarchies no matter the supposed political system.
Oligarchies are often controlled by a few powerful families whose children are raised and mentored to become inheritors of the power of the oligarchy, often at some sort of expense to those governed.


Separation of Church and State is necessary no matter what the mob thinks, call me an elitist. Its a FACT that the Founders were not exclusively christians but dieists, seen in so many writings Id have to start manufacturing links that would cover an entire page. And I will, I just need time.

Im still asking, what is the problem? That Christians above all others are allowed to erect monuments to their gods on government property, postulate all over them, is that what is wanted? Often I really want to ask, WHAT IS IT that you want, and will you ever be done, will it EVER be ENOUGH. Because the Supremes just gave you a bone, but thats just not good enough, is it?
aevans176
QUOTE(CruisingRam @ Jun 29 2005, 10:03 AM)
Hey aevans- what about the part about no other gods before me? we going to enforce that one as well? Time to start killing non-believers? Going to pick and choose which parts of the commandments you like now? or which ones to enforce?
*



You're missing the point cruisingram. What I'm trying to say is that there are components of our justice system, and American's view of righteousness that undoubtedly come from this very document.

I know people don't want to hear it, but there are many values based moral parallels between American culture and biblical theology, regardless of what side of the fence you stand on. People make statements about our founding fathers, and whether you agree or not, what you have to consider is that for the first 200 years of our history, America's leaders were predominantly religious men (men of faith).

While I don't believe that "worshiping other Gods before me" should be a part of our justice system, I'm confident that our laws have been influenced at least in part by the 10 Commandments.

Theocracies, as people claim the US to be, persecute and subjugate its citizens specifically based upon religion. I think of places like Saudi, the Iran or even the Vatican as great examples of theocracies (even as the Vatican doesn't persecute anyone). Theocracies are lead by portions of the religious leadership as opposed to democratically elected leaders, and the law is also enforced in this fashion. We're talking about a plaque in a court... which by no means consitutes persecution or a theocracy.

To negate the fact that a large part of who we are as Americans came from Plymouth Rock is illogical. A large portion of who we are began with Christians and biblical ideology. If the 10 Commandments are used as a simple historical monument, and envoy to the past, I'm ok with that.
Consider this... how many schools, companies, and institutions (at least until the past few years) had "Christmas parties" or "Easter Break"??? Those are, surprise-surprise, Christian holidays. We never get out of work for Passover, etc...
As much as America would like to move towards a completely secular society, it's not going to happen any time soon.
bucket
QUOTE(aevans176)
As much as America would like to move towards a completely secular society, it's not going to happen any time soon.


Would it? I haven't noticed. I think you are the one missing the point. The purpose of this ruling was not to create a secular society but rather a secular government. Would you care to explain why you feel you need the government endorsing a religion?

CruisingRam
As I pointed out- I am not against religious icon when used as an art form, but when it is used to obviously proselityze- like judge roy moore, when he put up the ten commandments and refused any other religious icons when requested.

I would be equally against buhddist, muslim or norse mythology displays in other than an art form manner.

Hammurabi's code has more to do with our laws than the 10 commandments- and as pointed out in several threads on this subject- there are several versions of the commandments- depending on which book you read, and about 5 of them enforce one religion on the population (thou shalt have no other gods before me) - Aevens- you can't seperate out half the commandments and then say THOSE five are the good ones- you take them all or you have nothing as far as the historical context of the bible- are we to outlaw idolatry? How will we define it? Wiccans will surely be thrown in jail, right?

The part of the 10 commandments that demonstrate harm to an innocent human being (thou shalt not steal) IS NOT universal to the Judeo christian thought ONLY- it is a universal concept.

Coveting is a THOUGHT crime- to simply think in your mind about wanting the hottie next door would be a crime if we actually used the 10 commandments as a basis of our laws!

The ruling is confusing to me as well, I will take a couple more days to digest it- like with the ED decision- the kneejerk reaction I had was wrong- so perhaps more reading by all is neccesary? hmmm.gif
aevans176
QUOTE(bucket @ Jun 29 2005, 12:23 PM)
QUOTE(aevans176)
As much as America would like to move towards a completely secular society, it's not going to happen any time soon.


Would it? I haven't noticed. I think you are the one missing the point. The purpose of this ruling was not to create a secular society but rather a secular government. Would you care to explain why you feel you need the government endorsing a religion?
*



I'm not missing the point at all, in fact I'm making a very valid one that you negate to address.

The Supreme Court is neither touting nor mandating the use of the 10 Commandments, but rather tipping its hat to the roots of the judicial system in America.

Consider the fact that it's difficult and expensive to get a divorce in America, that sodomy is still illegal, we don't recognize gay marriages, spousal abuse is inherently illegal, and that adultery is still reason for annulment/divorce. How did we get here? Where did our "justice system" come from?

I never said that the gov't should endorse religion, yet remember that our nation's values in relation to law have very interesting parallels.

Leaving the 10 Commandments in the Supreme Court is more showing defrance than endorsing any specific "God".

I find it interesting that people turn a deaf ear on profanity, and allow it on prime time TV, in our schools, and even in our email... but when people attempt to even mention God...as if religion has been rendered impotent in the US... it's as if someone's committed a crime. Like I mentioned before, Plymouth Rock was a large part of America's beginning. It's not like people fled England to come here because they were Muslims.... it's not like the prayer in our schools for the first 200+ years was to Allah... it's not like there are an abundance of "buddhist" parochial schools in the US. These are just non-arguable facts...
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Artemise @ Jun 29 2005, 11:48 AM)
QUOTE
Theocracy that our founders despised?


One resounding Hell YES.

Henry the 8th decided that because he could not divorce his Spanish Queen under Catholic law he would keep her in a tower and create a NEW CHURCH, then beheaded the next few wives under the Church of England, ( becoming the most undateable man in England). This and further barbarity is from which the Puritans and Revolutionaries came to America AGAINST. It was state sanctioned religion, taxed and oppressive, an oligarchy, which we are edging towards:
You are right that Henry the 8th and the king as head-of-church is what the founders were escaping. Even today, the Queen is head of the Church of England and the Archbishop of York serves in the House of Lords. The thing they were fleeing was state religion. When you quit the Church of England in those days, that was it baby. In America, we have about a zillion denominations of Christianity alone, and what do you know - it's thriving while no one in England goes to church anymore. Just one more argument for the free market vs. gov't control. It's not a monopoly or an oligarchy, it's a competitive marketplace!
LyricalReckoner
QUOTE(hayleyanne @ Jun 29 2005, 04:29 AM)
Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?

The Court most definitely got it wrong.  My criticism of the opinion has nothing to do with the result, but rather with the way it arrived at the result.

The Court purports to apply the neutrality principle from Lemon in both of these 10 commandments cases.  The problem is two fold:

(1) the neutrality principle or Lemon test itself is not constitutionally based;

(2) the Court does not apply the neutrality principle consistently in its establishment clause jurisprudence.

For these two reasons, we wind up with a judicial decree of the highest order that is neither rooted in the Constitution nor consistently applied.


Article III of the Constitution says “the judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution.” It says absolutely nothing about how the cases are to be decided. The Court can use any method it likes to decide a case. It can call the psychic hotline if it likes. And there's nothing unconstitutional about that.

Now, if you're really concerned about abiding by the Constitution, complain about President Bush and his complete disregard for Article IV, the one that says “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The president has said on several occassions that he will nominate to the court only those who agree with his belief that there is just one god. Now that's unconstitutional!

Some thoughts on how the Court's reasoning on Establishment Clause cases has evolved over the years:

http://www.misterthorne.org/ESSAYS/an_exodus_past.htm

Enjoy!
hayleyanne
QUOTE
So intent is of no consideration? What the intent was for one display can and will differ from what the intent was of another. I would imagine that most of us could easily discern this for ourselves. If I saw some guys up at my county courthouse erecting religious symbols or references to bible teachings I would imagine their intent was religious in nature. If I then watched them stand in front of it night after night demanding that our "shared" religious teachings must be recognized...being a minority in all this sharing..I would feel undoubtedly excluded


Bucket-- intent is not the issue. The first amendment and what it says is the issue. Intent may play a role in the interpretation of the first amendment, but not in the way that Court is applying it.

The first amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

So, the relevant question is whether the posting of the 10 commandments among a number of other documents on government grounds amounts to an establishment of religion.

The test for what amounts to an "establishment of religion" (the Lemon test) is what I question here. This particular test has only been used since the mid-20th century and it has produced incoherent and inconsistent results.

Its current version, according to the Court, states that:

“the First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between ... religion and nonreligion, "

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getc...3-1693#opinion1


http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getc...3-1693#dissent1

So, in other words, any law that reflects anything but neutrality between religion and nonreligion is violative of our first amendment and therefore prohibited. Nonsense.

(1)No such prohibition is found in the actual text of the first amendment. It says simply that that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This clause was originally understood (at least until a few decades ago) to mean that no one denomination could be preferred over another. It makes no mention whatsoever of any wall between church and state. More importantly, it says nothing of the need to prohibit government from acknowledging religion generally over non religion. In short, the test that the Court sets forth in this opinion is a radical departure from the language of the Constitution.

(2) Common practices in government do not support such a prohibition. Our money states: In God we Trust; the Military has a chaplain; Court sessions often times begin with a prayer; the President's oath of office includes the phrase "so help me God". etc, etc etc. Surely if our first amendment requires government neutrality neutrality between ... religion and nonreligion ... all of these practices would be violative of the first amendment.

(3) Finally, the Court itself has not consistently applied such a prohibition, even post Lemon. Since this prohibition was first articulated the Court has held:

- that government may relieve churches from the obligation to pay property taxes;

- that students may absent themselves from public school to take religious classes;

- that religious organizations may be exempt from generally applicable prohibitions of religious discrimination.

Surely these types of government actions indicate government bestowing benefits on religious practice? How can they be construed as not violating the neutrality principle?

If this neutrality principle is embodied in our first amendment then all of these practices ought to be deemed unconstitutional. But they have not been. And indeed, the Court has specifically upheld them. That tells me that the principle is wrongly articulated and therefore lacks any reliable predictive value.

The lack of a credible principle in the Court's jurisprudence is only one problem with this decision. Even if we accept the court's neutrality principle as correct here, I have a difficult time seeing how the 10 commandments in the Mcreary case violated it in any case-- but that is a different issue altogether.

QUOTE
Article III of the Constitution says "the judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution." It says absolutely nothing about how the cases are to be decided. The Court can use any method it likes to decide a case. It can call the psychic hotline if it likes. And there's nothing unconstitutional about that.


Wow. The psychic hotline eh? Are you seriously suggesting that the Court is not bound to the Constitution itself, when it interprets the Constitution? Frankly, I am at a loss as to how to respond to a comment like this.
LyricalReckoner
QUOTE(hayleyanne @ Jun 29 2005, 11:56 AM)
Wow.  The psychic hotline eh?  Are you seriously suggesting that the Court is not bound to the Constitution itself, when it interprets the Constitution?  Frankly, I am at a loss as to how to respond to a comment like this.
*



Read the Constitution. It says absolutely nothing about how cases are to be decided. The two Ten Commandment decisions are testimony to the fact that the court is not bound by logic, nor by consistency nor precedent.
hayleyanne
QUOTE
The two Ten Commandment decisions are testimony to the fact that the court is not bound by logic, nor by consistency nor precedent


I suppose you have a point there. laugh.gif
Jaime
Let's stop with the one-liners and be constructive in our posts, please.

TOPIC:
Did the Supreme Court judge correctly or incorrectly in these two cases?
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(LyricalReckoner @ Jun 29 2005, 02:42 PM)

Now, if you're really concerned about abiding by the Constitution, complain about President Bush and his complete disregard for Article IV, the one that says “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The president has said on several occassions that he will nominate to the court only those who agree with his belief that there is just one god. Now that's unconstitutional!

I would very much appreciate you providing some evidence for this claim.

(apologies for the one-liner, but seeking clarification)
bucket
QUOTE(aevans176)
The Supreme Court is neither touting nor mandating the use of the 10 Commandments, but rather tipping its hat to the roots of the judicial system in America. 

There were two separate cases with two separate rulings. One said the display was constitutional one said it was not.

QUOTE(aevans176)
Leaving the 10 Commandments in the Supreme Court is more showing defrance than endorsing any specific "God". 


The debate is not about the display of the 10 commandments in the Supreme Court but the ones in Kentucky and Texas. Even so I think it is important that you are aware that the display in the USSC..I have seen it with my own eyes..it is an image of moses with confucius and solon.
There are other depictions or displays of historic developments of law..The trial from the Illiad, a Roman practor at work, the publishing of Corpus Juris, King John signing the Magna Carta. Need me to go on?...there are more smile.gif
Obviously the Supreme Court..unlike yourself..acknowledges that our nation had the foresight and the advantage to pull our laws and our ideals from many sources..not just Christian.
Then again this is the essence of pluralism...not something you appear too keen on...I am. I think this is where you an I begin our disagreements.

QUOTE
Bucket-- intent is not the issue. The first amendment and what it says is the issue. Intent may play a role in the interpretation of the first amendment, but not in the way that Court is applying it. 

And I think it absolutely is about intent or purpose..the Lemon test is just that a test for intention.
1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion.
If the intention of a entanglement of state and church is not acceptable under the Establishment Clause then it is not constitutional. What passes for acceptable or unacceptable is decided on by the justices themselves. The constitution gives no guidance on this issue or on what an establishment of religion is.

QUOTE
The test for what amounts to an "establishment of religion" (the Lemon test) is what I question here. This particular test has only been used since the mid-20th century and it has produced incoherent and inconsistent results. 

This portrayal of the Lemon Test as some new fangled thing..worrisome to the more traditional methods is deceptive. The USSC hasn't really been actively ruling on cases involving the establishment clause until the mid-20th century. Also the lemon test is only one method used to help the Judges interpret what this clause's intention is. They have used what they call coercion, endorsement and neutrality tests along with historical writings and past writings or comments of the courts. Do you question these tools of deduction or interpretation too?

QUOTE(hayleyanne)
No such prohibition is found in the actual text of the first amendment. It says simply that that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This clause was originally understood (at least until a few decades ago) to mean that no one denomination could be preferred over another. It makes no mention whatsoever of any wall between church and state. More importantly, it says nothing of the need to prohibit government from acknowledging religion generally over non religion. In short, the test that the Court sets forth in this opinion is a radical departure from the language of the Constitution. 

And what changed the application or the court's involvement regarding state entanglement with religion? The 14th amend perhaps? I mean if you want to fully follow your argument through based on what the constitution says or doesn't say it also did not recognize a central or federal government with as much power or control over these kinds of issues in Kentucky or Texas. And before you tell me this too has little to do with the Kentucky case look to Thomas' dissent. I think it is a much more powerful argument then all this whinging about the lemon law.

I think neutrality is important. I don't feel this is a misinterpretation but rather an application of the establishment clause. The whole purpose or need for the court to rule on matters such as these is to help prevent mob rule or the demise of the practice of pluralism. I know it is difficult but I think it is something worthwhile..I wish for the government to remain as neutral as possible in regards to religion and I feel the importance of this neutrality in public realms like, courthouses and schools is vital to our society's progress.

QUOTE(hayleyanne)
Common practices in government do not support such a prohibition. Our money states: In God we Trust; the Military has a chaplain; Court sessions often times begin with a prayer; the President's oath of office includes the phrase "so help me God". etc, etc etc. Surely if our first amendment requires government neutrality neutrality between ... religion and nonreligion ... all of these practices would be violative of the first amendment. 

Yes but many of these common practices do have support for prohibition. Perhaps one day some or many or all will be found unconstitutional.

QUOTE(hayleyanne)
Finally, the Court itself has not consistently applied such a prohibition, even post Lemon. Since this prohibition was first articulated the Court has held: 
 
- that government may relieve churches from the obligation to pay property taxes; 

Wouldn't requiring churches to pay property tax basically amount to an application or establishment of law (tax law) on religious institutions? Wouldn't this requirement to pay taxes, and disclose financial records, receive or pay tax returns etc. also result in an entanglement of church and state? Perhaps even it could be said that church was subsidizing the state and as a result neutrality was impossible.

QUOTE(hayleyanne)
that students may absent themselves from public school to take religious classes; 
Wouldn't the state punishing or disallowing this be against the free exercise clause of the 1st amend? or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

QUOTE(hayleyanne)
that religious organizations may be exempt from generally applicable prohibitions of religious discrimination. 

Again by having the state enforce discrimination laws we would be asking for the state to enforce or establish laws on religion and we would not be allowing freedom of exercise of one's religion.

So I guess you and I do agree on something. I don't feel neutrality to religion is entirely cross the board at all times possible...I am not one for absolutism. I think at some times we have to give special considerations or privileges to religious bodies or views in order to appear more neutral. Perception is everything smile.gif It is my belief that the law is or should attempt to uphold all people as equals and often times that means it must give added protection or less consideration.

I have to dismantle my computer...new flooring going in down in my office. I might not be around until next weekend. My apologies. I am sure others would enjoy your dismantling of my argument with or without me. tongue.gif
aevans176
QUOTE(bucket @ Jun 29 2005, 09:43 PM)

So I guess you and I do agree on something.  I don't feel neutrality to religion is entirely cross the board at all times possible...I am not one for absolutism.  I think at some times we have to give special considerations or privileges to religious bodies or views in order to appear more neutral.  Perception is everything smile.gif  It is my belief that the law is or should attempt to uphold all  people as equals and often times that means it must give added  protection or less consideration.   
 

Ok...That's the America you live in! A country founded on a compact with God, forged from the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights is now a country where taxpayers can be forced to subsidize "artistic" exhibits of aborted fetuses. But don't start thinking about putting up a Ten Commandments display. That's offensive!

To put the Supreme Court's recent ban on the Ten Commandments display in perspective, here is a small sampling of other speech that has been funded in whole or in part by taxpayers:

• Graphic videos demonstrating how to put a condom on and pep talks by "Planned Parenthood educators. —sex education classes at public schools across the nation

• "Ignored were the less honorable aspects of California history—the profiteering, revolts against Mexican authority and Indian massacres." —Smithsonian exhibit, comment on the painting "The Promised Land—The Grayson Family"

• Close-up photos of women's vaginas plastered all over a portrait of the Virgin Mary (which The New York Times will still not mention when it describes the "art"). —Brooklyn Museum of Art


• "F--- a Fetus," poster showing an unborn baby with the caption: "For all you folks who consider a fetus more valuable than a woman, have a fetus cook for you, have a fetus affair, go to a fetus' house to ease your sexual frustration." —NEA-funded performance

• Performance of giant bloody tampons, satanic bunnies, three-foot feces and vibrators. —NEA-funded performance

• A novel depicting the sexual molestation of a group of 10 children in a pedophile's garage, including acts of bestiality, with the children commenting on how much they enjoyed the pedophilia. —NEA-funded publisher

• Christ submerged in a jar of urine —NEA-funded exhibit


(taken from an article by Ann Coulter...surprise! She's such a slayer of liberal cynicism!!! w00t.gif )
DaffyGrl
This is way off topic and I apologize in advance, but I cannot let aevans' misconceptions of the NEA go unchallenged. I suppose it’s OK for the psychotic rhymes-with-witch Coulter to cherry-pick the tiny quantity of the most offensive projects to fuel her forked tongue invective without considering the myriad other projects the NEA gives grants to/for.
QUOTE
Dallas Museum of Art: Modernism in American Silver: 20th Century Design, the stylistic history of silver design in America between 1925 and 2000, with accompanying catalogue and education programs.

Georgia O’Keefe Museum: To support the touring exhibition Georgia O'Keeffe and the Women of the Stieglitz Circle, with accompanying education programs.

Williams College: To support the touring exhibition Moving Pictures: American Art and Early Film, 1880 - 1910, with accompanying catalogue and education programs. The exhibition will explore the relationship between American art and the new art of film at the turn of the 20th century.

PBS: To support the selection, acquisition, packaging, and promotion of films for broadcast on the public television series P.O.V. ("point of view"). As the longest running PBS series devoted exclusively to the art of independent, non-fiction film, P.O.V. brings documentary artworks -- rarely found in the mainstream media -- to national audiences.

Other NEA grants include those to Arts & Visually Impaired Audiences, Bowery Arts & Science, Capital Concerts (they put on the Memorial Day concert and A Capital Fourth in DC), Education Broadcasting, LA Theatre Works. Source: NEA

Pretty darned subversive stuff, eh? dry.gif But you won’t hear Coulter talk about those. They don't serve her purpose.
aevans176
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Jun 30 2005, 11:54 AM)
Pretty darned subversive stuff, eh?  dry.gif But you won’t hear Coulter talk about those. They don't serve her purpose.
*



daffy, you're better than that. You know darn well I wasn't talking about what the NEA does, but more what our tax dollars support.

This wasn't a stab at the NEA, but just showed what they were sponsoring and the fact that the 10 Commandments caused an up-roar, but these "interesting" at-best pieces were being supported at least in part by my dime... Ann Coulter didn't take any stabs at the NEA either. The article is found on humaneventsonline.com.... take a peek.
Victoria Silverwolf
I think I can follow up on this, and still remain focused on the main question for debate.

The questions Should offensive art be funded through tax dollars? and Should religious artifacts be posted on government property? have nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to do with each other.

It seems to be a common misconception that those of us who support a very strong separation of church and state do so because we are "offended" by religious displays. This is simply not true. Our belief is that the government should not express any official opinion on religious issues at all. I would strongly object to a monument on government property which stated "No Gods Exist," even though such a monument would not offend me at all.

With this in mind, the decision of the Supreme Court in these two cases seems very reasonable and very moderate to me.
LyricalReckoner
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jun 29 2005, 12:46 PM)
QUOTE(LyricalReckoner @ Jun 29 2005, 02:42 PM)

Now, if you're really concerned about abiding by the Constitution, complain about President Bush and his complete disregard for Article IV, the one that says “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The president has said on several occassions that he will nominate to the court only those who agree with his belief that there is just one god. Now that's unconstitutional!

I would very much appreciate you providing some evidence for this claim.

(apologies for the one-liner, but seeking clarification)
*



The president has said this on several occasions. The first occasion I'm aware of is a statement he made the same day the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said it was unconstitutional to have school kids pledge their allegiance 'to one nation under God.'

This, from June 2002:


There was one more notable development, but this one barely caused a thud. President Bush announced a new requirement for Federal judges: they must be monotheists. “There is a universal God,” said the president. “The declaration of God in the Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t violate rights. As a matter of fact, it’s a confirmation of the fact that we received our rights from God, as proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence.”

And then he declared his intent to appoint to the federal bench only those who agreed with his religious beliefs. “We need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God. Those are the kinds of judges I intend to put on the bench.”

So polytheists, such as Buddhists and Hindus, cannot become federal judges because they don’t share the president’s belief that there’s one god, and that god gave us our civil rights.


carlitoswhey
QUOTE(LyricalReckoner @ Jul 1 2005, 11:41 AM)

And then he declared his intent to appoint to the federal bench only those who agreed with his religious beliefs. “We need common-sense judges who understand that our rights were derived from God. Those are the kinds of judges I intend to put on the bench.”

So polytheists, such as Buddhists and Hindus, cannot become federal judges because they don’t share the president’s belief that there’s one god, and that god gave us our civil rights.


Thanks - I Googled and found this USA Today article with the quote. Surprisingly, I disagree with your interpretation. You of course know that the Declaration of Independence is part of our nation's organic laws. If a common-sense polytheist or Hindu understands that our nation's laws are built on the notion that men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, they certainly can serve on the court. No different than a pro-life judge serving, who agrees to rule on abortion cases based on the law / precedent and not their personal views.
LyricalReckoner
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jul 1 2005, 08:55 AM)
You of course know that the Declaration of Independence is part of our nation's organic laws. 
*



I disagree. The Declaration of Independence is just that: a declaration that we're breaking ranks (dissolving bands) with England and a list of the reasons why (including England's support for merciless Indian Savages). I know of no instance in which someone was accused of violating the Declaration.




carlitoswhey
QUOTE(LyricalReckoner @ Jul 1 2005, 12:31 PM)
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jul 1 2005, 08:55 AM)
You of course know that the Declaration of Independence is part of our nation's organic laws. 
*



I disagree.

You may disagree, but if you buy yourself a copy of the US code, where our nation's laws are listed, right up front you'll see that the first section is entitled "The Organic Laws of the United States," and contains:

- The Declaration of Independence
- Articles of Confederation
- US Constitution
...and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 (you'll love this one!)**


Black's Law Dictionary, Rev. 4th Ed.
ORGANIC LAW - The fundamental law, or constitution, of a state or nation, written or unwritten; that law or system of laws or principles which defines and establishes the organization of its government.
St. Louis v. Dorr, 145 Mo. 466, 46 S.W. 976, 42 L.R.A. 686, 86 Am.St. Rep. 575

** The Northwest Ordinance, in article III, stated the following:

"Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

When Ohio and Mississippi were petitioning for statehood, they were told to form their governnments "in a manner in accordance with the Northwest Ordinance." So, we could ask ourselves, was George Washington violating the First Amendment when he signed the Northwest Ordinance? Is George Bush violating the law when he states the obvious regarding our nation's founding principles?

... or, just perhaps, has our Supreme Court lost its way? hmmm.gif

us.gif

LyricalReckoner
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jul 1 2005, 09:54 AM)
Is George Bush violating the law when he states the obvious regarding our nation's founding principles?
*



He's being selective, hooking on to that one part he likes (about unalienable rights) and disregarding the rest (about merciless Indian Savages).

I don't see how it could be illegal for the president to say he believes our rights come from a god, seeing as he (the president) has a First Amendment right to say what he believes.
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