The purpose of Our Conscience weblog is to facilitate a greater discussion and understanding of church and state separation in our community and in others. Underlying this is the value that each individual should be allowed to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience without influence, coercion, or direction from the State when it comes to matters of religion.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The wall separating religion and gov just lost a brick today

HEIN v. FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION, INC. (No. 06-157) 433 F. 3d 989, reversed.

5-4 (Majority: Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Kennedy)

"Ruled that ordinary taxpayers cannot challenge a White House initiative that helps religious charities get a share of federal money." Source

Justice Souter explains the importance:

"The plurality points to the separation of powers to explain its distinction between legislative and executive spending decisions, see ante, at 20–21, but there is no difference on that point of view between a Judicial Branch review of an executive decision and a judicial evaluation of a congressional one. We owe respect to each of the other branches, no more to the former than to the latter, and no one has suggested that the Establishment Clause lacks applicability to executive uses of money. It would surely violate the Establishment Clause for the Department of Health and Human Services to draw on a general appropriation to build a chapel for weekly church services (no less than if a statute required it), and for good reason: if the Executive could accomplish through the exercise of discretion exactly what Congress cannot do through legislation, Establishment Clause protection would melt away." ~Justice Souter, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer join, dissenting. More


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