November 2, 2011 |
The House took a break from battles over economic policy Tuesday and returned to the culture war. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Republican-led chamber voted to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the official U.S. motto and encourage its display in all public schools and buildings. The nonbinding resolution inevitably reopened a debate over separation of church and state — the sort of social issue that has taken a back seat this year to the debt ceiling, budget deficit and flagging economy.
November 3, 2010 |
The Obama administration upset liberals as well as the president's two Supreme Court appointees Wednesday by arguing that taxpayers had no right to sue the government if it used tax money to fund religious schools. The surprising argument came in this term's most important church-state dispute. At issue is the constitutionality of an unusual 13-year-old Arizona law that gives individuals dollar-for-dollar tax credits up to $500 for contributions to private organizations, which in turn allows taxpayers to direct a $500 tax credit to a private organization, which in turn pays tuition for students in private schools.
May 29, 2010
The United States has a long tradition of allowing tax breaks for charitable contributions, including donations to churches and other religious organizations. But the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that a program that offers tax credits for contributions to provide scholarships for private schools breaches the wall separating church and state. It's a tortured decision that the Supreme Court rightly has agreed to review. For 13 years Arizona has offered a tax credit — up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 to married couples — for contributions to so-called school tuition organizations that provide scholarships to private schools so long as they don't discriminate on the basis of race, color, handicap, familial status or national origin.
May 9, 2010
Should church and state ever meet? Re "Power and prayer," Editorial, May 2 The obsession with securing the ideal of "separation of church and state" has been carried too far, to the point of risking a serious misinterpretation of what our Founding Fathers meant by this phrase. The issue has been confused to the point where upholding traditional moral or ethical standards in any public forum is seen by some as the establishment of religion. Many teachers in our schools now hesitate to inform students about key values of the major faiths, such as those implicit in the Ten Commandments and the Torah, which for the most part are universal to civilized humankind and transcend sectarian identity or theism itself.
April 29, 2010 |
The Supreme Court gave its approval Wednesday to displaying a cross on public land to honor fallen soldiers, saying the Constitution "does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm." Speaking for a divided court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the 1st Amendment called for a middle-ground "policy of accommodation" toward religious displays on public land, not a strict separation of church and state. Kennedy disagreed with judges in California who said U.S. National Park Service officials must remove a small Latin cross from the Mojave National Preserve that had stood since 1934 to honor soldiers who died in World War I. The judges said the display of the cross on public land amounted to a government endorsement of religion.
March 15, 2010
Roberts' rules Re "Chief justice sees reason to shun State of Union event," March 10 Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is concerned about the criticism, during the State of the Union address, of the Supreme Court's decision allowing an even greater intrusion of corporate money into our electoral process. So concerned, Roberts says, that justices should perhaps not attend the speech in the future. Well, la-di-da. I am concerned that we appear to have a Supreme Court that, far from being sobered or chastened by its weighty responsibilities to uphold the Constitution of the United States, appears to have allowed ego, hubris and a distinctly pro-corporate bias to derail common sense.