Supreme Court Justice Scalia: Constitution says government can favor religion

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia listens to a question after speaking at an event sponsored by the Federalist Society at the New York Athletic Club in New York on October 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SCALIA-RELIGION, originally transmitted on Jan. 4, 2016.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia listens to a question after speaking at an event sponsored by the Federalist Society at the New York Athletic Club in New York on October 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Darren Ornitz *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SCALIA-RELIGION, originally transmitted on Jan. 4, 2016.

(RNS) Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is never shy about voicing his strong, and strongly conservative, opinions about the role of religion in American society, and he has once again made headlines with what he called a “sermon” in which he said the U.S. Constitution can favor religion over “nonreligion.”

In fact, Scalia told a gathering at a Catholic high school near New Orleans on Saturday (Jan. 2), “one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.”

“Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways,” he said in a brief talk at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metarie, according to various news reports.

“There is nothing wrong with that, and do not let anybody tell you that there is anything wrong with that,” added Scalia, a Catholic.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond introduced Scalia to the crowd of about 600 that had gathered for an annual celebration of religious freedom.

In his brief remarks, Scalia said that the principle of religious neutrality has been twisted by jurists since the 1970s to mean that traces of religion must be banished in favor of a purely secular public square. He called that idea “absurd.”

“To tell you the truth, there is no place for that in our constitutional tradition. Where did that come from?” he said. “To be sure, you can’t favor one denomination over another. But we can’t favor religion over nonreligion?”

Scalia said justices should follow the customs and common experiences of the American people on matters of faith more than “abstract principles.”

He said that if the American people at some point decide they want to “impose” secularism on the U.S., “I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is done democratically.”

But, he added, “Don’t cram it down the throats of an American people that has always honored God on the pretext that the Constitution requires it.”

Scalia, 79, was appointed in 1986 by President Reagan and is the high court’s longest-serving justice. He frequently makes headlines with comments in speeches as well as from the bench; in oral arguments last month on a crucial affirmative action case before the high court, he came under fire for questioning whether some black students would benefit from going to “slower-track” schools.

These latest remarks also drew fire, but also support from fellow conservatives.

“I hope Scalia … lives to be a hundred and ten, and dies on the bench, fighting,” columnist Rod Dreher, who attended the talk, wrote at the American Conservative.

“Scalia is right to say that there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to be neutral about religion,” said William Donohue of the Catholic League.

In addition to a decision on affirmative action, the Supreme Court this year is set to rule on a number of key cases of great interest to faith groups, including the contraception coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act that some religious groups say forces them to allow employees to get health insurance coverage for birth control and for prescriptions that they say can cause abortions.

(David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS)

  • This judge is an awful interpreter of the Constitution:

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion
    nor prohibit the free practice thereof.” – US Constitution

    6 reasons why a religion must never be established as law :

    “I will kill her children with death” – JESUS (Rev. 2:23)
    “Execute my enemies in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “if you have money, buy a sword” – JESUS (Luke 22:36-37)
    “and they will be burned” – JESUS (John 15:6)
    “He should be drowned with a millstone” – JESUS (Luke 17:2)
    “My kingdom advances with violence.” – JESUS (MATTHEW 11:12)

    There are thousands more where these came from.

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  • Larry

    And this is why nobody outside of the extreme ends of the right wingnutsphere has anything nice to say about Scalia’s intellectual honesty. Rod Dreher and William Donohue are two people whose opinions on government and politics I have zero respect for.

    The 1diocy of attacks on secular government, aka religious neutrality is that it naturally assumes the speaker’s religion will be the only one favored by government. The fools who attack secular government are the same who spout off about “encroaching Sharia” in an unironic fashion, giving little thought to their own contribution to theocratic government. Scalia is not fool. He knows what he is saying is untrue but does not care.

    It was Catholics and Baptists who originally fought tooth and nail for secular government. Now they (at least the Southern variety of Baptists) are the ones doing their best to attack it. To attack religious freedom for all to satisfy their sectarian wants.

  • I, J

    “Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience.”

    – James Madison, author of the 1st Amendment, on the Establishment Clause

    So if I chose to worship God in no manner, that is also protected. The government cannot compel me to do otherwise.

  • Terri Geer

    “Scalia, 79, was appointed in 1986 by President Reagan and is the high court’s longest-serving justice.”

    Before Scalia was approved by the Senate, he refused to answer any of the questions directed toward him. He should never have been appointed. And anyone who has been watching SCOTUS, and their rulings, knows that Scalia is not, in any way, impartial.

    In the leadup to the SSM ruling, I was wondering what kind of verbose tantrum he was going to throw when his opinion was no t in the majority.

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  • G Key

    Re “He said that if the American people at some point decide they want to ‘impose’ secularism on the U.S., ‘I don’t have a problem with that as long as it is done democratically.’ “:

    Justice Scalia doesn’t seem to realize what “done democratically” means in reference to any democratic majority wanting “to ‘impose’ ” anything on any minority.

    “Majority rule” and “others’ rights” is a marriage made in hell. It is a godforsaken abomination that must be opposed by all Americans — believer or not.

  • Diogenes

    While true that Scalia tends to shoot from the lip, it is not unreasonable to infer from the text of the 1st Amendment, that in the language of the time, ‘establishment of religion’ was a specific reference to a specific preference by government for a specific Christian sect. It did not and could not represent the present day hostility evidenced to all religious expression in government by the federal judiciary today. Even Mr. Madison would be a bit nonplussed I think.

  • Richard Rush

    Scalia is once again reminding us of the most important reason to never vote for a Republican president. If Ted Cruz became president, I have no doubt that he would nominate a Scalia lookalike to the Supreme Court. I could easily imagine that Cruz’s first choice would be Alabama’s Roy Moore.

  • Ronald Severson

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.[78]

    The 1st Amendment forbids the establishment of a state or national religion. Then it clearly states that Congress can not prohibit the free exercise of religion .. nor abridge the freedom of speech, press, peaceable assembly or petition.

    The fact is that the 1st Amendment provides Freedom OF Religion .. not Freedom FROM Religion as extremists on the left as well as atheists would have people believe.

  • Larry

    “that in the language of the time, ‘establishment of religion’ was a specific reference to a specific preference by government for a specific Christian sect.”

    That is a ridiculous reading of the Establishment Clause which is neither supported by the text, the stated intent of the drafters nor anything said by lawmakers after its adoption. The only people who make such a blatantly dishonest claim are those who attack religious liberties in favor of a sectarian discriminatory agenda.

    Religious freedom REQUIRES an entirely secular government. One which neither favors nor seeks to harm religious belief and practice. One cannot claim to support religious freedom and expect government to favor any given religious group in an official fashion. Scalia and most “social conservatives” these days believe freedom only applies to one’s self and not to others.

  • Larry

    You are not really thinking your idea through very hard or you are deliberately trying to undermine religious freedom in favor of your own faith.

    When government endorses and favors a given religious group, then the free exercise of religion is attacked. One cannot have one without the other.
    A reductive reading of the Establishment Clause is also an attack on the Free Exercise Clause.

    A national or state religion can be expressed by simply showing favor to a given faith in a public manner using public resources. When government endorses a given faith, it tells those of a minority belief that they will not receive the liberties and protections given to the majority. It attacks their free exercise. [Which may be your ultimate intention here]

    Government must be separated from religion in order to preserve the integrity and freedom of both.

  • Steven

    If you want a government that supports religion, go to Iran, they seem to like it there.

  • Diane Jettinghoff

    So are you going to force me to be religious? I don’t have the freedom to not be religious? How are you going to do that? Force me to go to church? Not allow me to speak about my non-religious beliefs?

  • @Ronald,

    “not Freedom FROM Religion as extremists on the left as well as atheists…”

    WRONG.
    Otherwise you would NOT be free from Sharia Law and such religious edicts could be imposed on you!
    Do you Christians pay no attention to your own interests?

    I have the right to reject your religion and to keep it out of public law. And I have the right to ridicule it and laugh at your Holy Spirit as much as I want.
    Though the decorum of RNS prevents me from saying what I really want to say.

  • Diane Jettinghoff

    Mr. Madison was an atheist so he very much supported not having any religion in government.

  • Cora

    When religion was established in the colonies as guidance for the laws, witches were burned in Salem. That was recent history for Jefferson, who explained that the First Amendment was written to keep church and stated separate. You can’t have freedom OF your religion, if you don’t have freedom FROM somebody else’s religion.

  • Jack

    No, Diane, “Mr. Madison” was not an atheist. Like most of the Founders and Framers, he had a heterodox view of religion, ie he was less than a totally orthodox Christian although closer to being one than to being an Enlightenment deist.

    Thomas Paine was an atheist, but not Madison.

  • Jack

    The key, no matter what Scalia or any other judge says or doesn’t say, is that neither religious expression nor non-religious expression should be discriminated against in the public square. That’s key to any understanding of the religion clause of the First Amendment. Separation of religion from state, however defined, should not mean exclusion of religious expression from public life.

  • Larry

    ““Mr. Madison” was not an atheist.”

    That part is probably true. Madison showed an indifference to religion personally, but did not express a lack of belief that we know of.

    ” ie he was less than a totally orthodox Christian although closer to being one than to being an Enlightenment deist. ”

    What could support such a conjecture?

    There are plenty of false Madison quotes which stand for such a proposition
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/madison.htm#PHONYMAD

    http://thedailyhatch.org/2012/07/12/misquotes-fake-quotes-and-disputed-quotes-of-the-founders/

    Claiming he was closer to one than an “Enlightenment deist”is nothing more than wishful thinking. Like those “Enlightenment deists”, he showed an appreciation for the importance of others to exercise religious beliefs and to protect government from sectarian discrimination. But he demonstrated little to nothing of personal beliefs in that regard.

  • Larry

    When government resources are used for religious expression, it is by its nature discriminatory, unless it is ecumenical in nature. Government must either embrace all faiths or none if they are to avoid the taint of sectarian discrimination forbidden by the 1st Amendment. That includes including expressions of those without any religious belief.

    The big problem with dominionists and others who minimize and attack separation of church and state is that they want the playground all to themselves. They want their religious group to be given preferential treatment at the expense of everyone else. The way the rules are set up, one must either share their space with others, or nobody gets to play. 🙂

  • Theo van Gogh

    Theo van Gogh So in Scalia’s view, I apparently have an inferior position under the constitution because I lack a belief in any supernatural source of authority. This is exactly the type of special privilege the religious right wants to promote in this country. If they have their way we will not have religious freedom, we will have a sectarian theocracy. Then it will be only a matter of time before the various denominations starts killing each other. We’ll be no different from the Shiites and Sunnis with their centuries-old blood feud.
    What could, “…prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion…,” mean other than a secular government??? What an ass!

  • Richard Rush

    Well stated, Cora. It deserves repeating:

    “You can’t have freedom OF your religion, if you don’t have freedom FROM somebody else’s religion.”

  • Jack

    Larry, Madison as a Presbyterian believed in the bare-bones basic doctrines of Christianity, which meant he was not a deist. Even Ben Franklin, who had strong deistic tendencies, was not a strict deist because he called for prayer on more than one occasion. To be a consistent deist, you have to believe that prayer is useless, since the God of deism is completely transcendent and is not involved in day-to-day human affairs or moved by petitions.

  • Jack

    I agree in principle with your opposition to dominionism, but the problem is that you define it so broadly as to include anybody who doesn’t support the French laicite view of religion and state, one that tends toward an exclusion rule for religion in public life.

  • @Jack,

    DEIST:
    “I believe reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a Creator.”

    ATHEIST:
    “I believe reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a Creator.”

    These are identical positions regarding God.

    Deism is merely a socially acceptable Atheist Hideout
    – it is not a religion. It has no rituals and has no religious practices.
    It is a clear endorsement of belief ONLY following evidence.

    Our Constitution was formed when people were smart enough to know religion was the biggest enemy of freedom – a condition the Islamic world is now faced with.

  • JACK,

    “you define it so broadly as to include anybody who doesn’t support the French laicite view of religion and state”

    Wrong.
    Larry is pointing out the Constitution strikes the correct balance.
    You have the freedom to believe in any gods you want, but you do not have the freedom to enforce those beliefs on anyone else.

    If it were otherwise, Sharia Law or the Hindu Caste system could become enforce law in the USA with just a few carefully placed elections.

    It is time for Americans to grow up and BE GRATEFUL for our formal Church State Separation – WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY ON EARTH WHICH HAS IT!

    Good grief! Get over it and show some appreciation!

  • As a Catholic priest I have some difficulty with what a supreme justice should be saying. It is certainly not that those of us who are religious should have special privilege over others who may not be religious at all, which by the way is a growing number especially among the younger generation. He himself says that the government should not be favoring one “denomination” over another. However, this only refers to Christian traditions, which are called denominations. Whether religious, of any tradition, or non religious, all should be treated impartially. Treating each other as equal citizens under the law is not imposing non-religious agenda down the “throats” of religious believers of any tradition, but favoring religious over non-religious can very well be doing just that to those who do not cater to any religious institution or faith. As a Catholic, I would expect that and see it as an invitation for religious and non religious to find ways to work together for the common…

  • Larry

    Jack, you are throwing pure gibberish here.

    You keep using the term “French laicite view” around without bothering to define it. What the combination of both the separation of church and state and free exercise of religion has to do with France remains to be seen, even to this day.

    You don’t really agree with me in principle because you support sectarian discrimination by government.

    You completely also ignored my point. The only way religious expression can be permitted by government is if it is ecumenical in nature. You clearly do not understand the term “ecumenical” (To encompass the plurality of beliefs)

    No single religion or sect can be given preferential treatment. Atheists and believers alike have equal protection in their beliefs under the law. That nativity scene in the courthouse you would support is only acceptable if symbols of other faiths/beliefs are present (not just Christian sects). This includes atheists or even Satanists. 🙂

  • Jack

    Religion is the “biggest enemy of freedom,” Max?

    Tell that to the Founders and Framers:

    “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations . . . of republicanism and of all free governments.”

    Who said that, Max?

    I’ll give you a hint — America’s second president who was married to Abigail.

    Now give the carnival barking a rest and stop drinking the Karl Marx Kool-Aid.

  • Jack

    Comparing nearly anything in America to the mullahs of Tehran is obscene.

  • Jack

    The Constitution indeed is the right balance, which fits my point precisely.

    What you and Butch, your sidekick, are advocating is about as constitutional as…..the French idea of laicite — the exclusion of religious expression from public life.

    The constitutional model is a very nice balance which avoids the theocratic extreme on the one hand and the totalitarian impulses of radical secularism on the other.

  • Jack

    Larry, your own views are at best incoherent, essentially at war with each other, and at worst a roundabout way of endorsing the same-old-same-old idea that religion should be relegated to the back of the bus — at home, maybe in a house of worship, but nowhere else. That’s freedom of worship, but it’s certainly not full-orbed freedom of religion.

    Freedom of religion means the right to believe or not believe, and to express those beliefs in public life as much as outside of it.

    All the Establishment clause does is say that no one religious sect should predominate. It in no way says that government must not be favorable to religion generally or that government should bar all public expression of a religious nature.

    Put another way, if I decide one day to run for president and I win, then assuming that doesn’t give you a heart attack, you have the right to disagree with my publicly stated beliefs, but you can’t compel me to silence them.

  • Larry

    Jack, your Madison quote is a deliberate distortion made by freedom hating Dominionists trying to pretend the 1st Amendment doesn’t really protect religious freedom for all. You are quoting people who deliberately lie about Founders to support a Christian theocratic agenda
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/madison.htm#PHONYMAD

    Rule of thumb, if its on “Wallbuilders”, its garbage.
    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=63

  • Jack

    Atheist Max judging Justice Scalia on what the Constitution means is like Daffy Duck judging Milton Friedman on macroeconomics or Barney the Dinosaur challenging Einstein on the theory of relativity.

  • Jack

    I hate to break it to you, Larry, but Abigail’s husband was not James Madison.

  • Larry

    “French laicite view” as you use it is a nonsense phrase. Bereft of meaning or context. Your reference is useless garbage.

    The Establishment Clause cannot be read in a reductive fashion if government is to protect Free Exercise of religion. If government is not neutral towards religion by either being ecumenical or religion free in its dealings, no religious belief can be protected by law.

    Your inability to understand the term ecumenical or to address how ecumenialism allows for religious expression by government renders your points meaningless. What you are really trying to do is excuse sectarian discrimination.

    It is apparent I will have to be as plain as possible:

    All religious freedom depends on a government not willing to favor ANY given belief over others. It can either keep religion out entirely or recognize all faiths/beliefs. Either works here. You always miss the last part.

  • JACK,

    “What you…are advocating is about as constitutional as…..the French idea of laicite — the exclusion of religious expression from public life.”

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
    I said I support the Constitution – WE ARE THE ONLY COUNTRY which has the lawful and proper balance.

    “….shall not prohibit the free practice thereof”

    Keep your religion to yourself, your church and your street corner. If that isn’t enough for you too bad!
    If you want to get on a bully pulpit soapbox it SHALL NOT be a GOVERNMENT FUNDED! Get over it.

  • Fr. Carl,

    There is no place for religion in government. America is an Atheist Country with an Atheist Constitution:

    “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof”

    This is exactly how I run my Atheist household.
    My children are free to have religion if they want to but nobody is allowed to insist others to pay ANY attention to their religions if they don’t want to.

  • Larry

    My bad here you go.
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/adams.htm

    You quoted a man who said:

    “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”

  • Larry

    People who talk about banning mosques, sanctioning atheism under color of law, declaring the US a “Christian Nation”, and extol government favoritism for their faith are obscene in the same way.

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  • Jack

    Larry, that’s a good post if your goal is to refute the claim that Adams was an evangelical Christian. But as you well know, that’s not the issue nor was it my contention. Far from it.

    The issue is whether, as your friend Atheist Max said, the Constitution is based on the premise that religion and freedom are foes. Clearly, they are not, and any number of quotes from the Founders and Framers make that point only too well. Almost to a man, they believed that religion was good for freedom because it inculcated in citizens the self-discipline necessary for self-governance. You can argue whether their contention was correct, but clearly, that was what they were contending.

    Decades later, Tocqueville marveled how in America, unlike Old Europe, religious and freedom were friends.

    Nice try, though, in conflating that issue with the issue of level of personal religiosity of these Founders and Framers. The two are separate issues entirely.

  • Jack

    No they’re not, Larry.

    They’re bad, but not bad in the same way.

    There are differing levels of badness in life and a sane and sensible person with a sense of balance and proportion notes the differences.

    It is the mark of a fanatical ideologue and partisan not to know or care to know about such differences.

  • Jack

    Atheist Max, you see a natural hostility between religion and democracy while the entire history of America as an independent nation shows otherwise.

    As early as the 1830s, the French nobleman, Alexis de Tocqueville, noted how different America was than his native France on this very issue. He marveled at how religion in America was precisely what the Founders and Framers had hoped it would be — an enabler of freedom, and not an enemy of it.

    This is far more true today than it was then. But here are you and Butch, acting like a couple of green horns, right off the boat from Old Europe, not knowing a darned thing about American democracy, foaming at the mouth like a couple of French Revolution radicals, tilting at windmills.

    You both should do a study on the difference between the American and French revolutions. Come to think of it, the entire American Left should do likewise. You folks are clueless about your own country.

  • You are sadly mistaken. There is ample evidence in the direct words of the Founding Fathers that they wanted government to be free of the terrible abuses that had been visited on Europe by government allied with religion. Their attitudes were indeed hostile to the alliance between government and religion, and they decidedly included non-Christian religions (Judaism, Islam and Hindu) in their writings. Scalia is an abberation, and his bias has been in evidence for so long that most people think it normal in a Justice of SCOTUS. It is most decidedly not normal.

  • Jack said: September 7, 2015 at 11:19 am
    “Funny, isn’t it, how Jews support massive racial and ethnic integration in every predominately white country on Earth, yet are busy creating a massively segregated, apartheid state for themselves.”

  • @Jack,

    “Freedom of religion means the right to believe or not believe, and to express those beliefs in public life as much as outside of it.”

    AND YOU NEED TO GROW UP.
    You and Kim Davis and Sarah Palin can spew your hatred as much as you like. I already TOLD YOU IT GET’S ATHEIST MAX’S APPROVAL.

    But you will also suffer the consequences for promoting you magic fairy – you shall be laughed at and ridiculed until the cows come home and you can do nothing about it. And you can’t force it into the laws.

    Get over it. You lose.

  • Jack

    Max, you know as well as I do that the post you just reposted is not from me. I told you this previously, but you knew it anyway because it diametrically opposes my views.

    I would caution you not to play those sorts of games. Life has a funny way of biting liars in the behind.

    If someone can masquerade as me and post things I don’t believe, they can do the same to you.

    So don’t be stupid.

  • Jack

    Max, I never wrote that grotesque post. You knew that the moment you read it and I confirmed it by telling you that when you reposted it. It is exactly the opposite of what I believe.

    But you reposted it anyway.

    The fact that you have to resort to lying shows how insecure you are in what you believe. If you were strong in your convictions, you’d let them stand on their own.

    It’s not very bright to play these games for reasons that should be clear to any thinking person. Most people learn that as children. You’re a middle-aged man and apparently still haven’t learned.

  • Jack

    RNS sometimes delays postings…..the two posts are saying the same thing.

  • Jack

    Max, you haven’t said anything, but you have huffed and puffed and stomped your feet a few times.

    Try again, but this time, write in standard English.

  • So it’s an oxymoron? They can’t establish one, but we have no right to be free from one. In other words, your words, we don’t have the right to not worship a god. We must then worship a god, some god? Just trying to follow your logic.

  • Colin

    The difference between Christian nationalists in America and Islamic fundamentalists in Iran is one of power and social respectability. In the US, as a secular nation, we don’t give /much/ rope to Christian nationalists to impose their will on others. In Iran, that is the current governments purview. I have little hope that when we give the mosque-banners government approval the Christian nationalists will remain so…’reasonable’.

  • For larry’s idea of “recognize ALL faiths/beliefs,” notion of ecumenical government to work, one belief that would have to be ‘recognized’ is Satanism, another would have to be atheism. By the time you’ve made the tent that big, your options are secular government or take a Sharpie to the First Amendment. The logic of such an all-encompassing ecumenicalism is untenable on the face of it.

  • Larry

    “By the time you’ve made the tent that big, your options are secular government or take a Sharpie to the First Amendment”

    The first amendment IS secular government. The alternative to secular government is sectarian discrimination under the color of law. Your premise is ridiculously exaggerated.

    When it comes to religious displays on public ground, all comers must be given equal weight. No favoritism must be shown. What criteria can you use to filter other faiths out which will not be discriminatory in nature? You can’t.

    That of course includes Satanists and Atheists, if they apply. If there is a deadline for display requests and the paperwork is in order and on time, they must be permitted. No exceptions.

    Its called being fair and impartial.

  • Zorntap

    As always, the media assumes that only conservatives agree with conservatives on matters of faith. This liberal agrees absolutely with Scalia’s point that the neutrality principle does NOT require the state to be neutral on matters of faith vs. non-faith. It’s such a point of common sense that it transcends political leaning. Are we slaves to dogma on the left? Are we somehow obliged to disagree with the right in every instance? If they refuse to jump out of a window, do we line up to take the plunge? Good grief….

    It HURTS us to take the path of disagreeing with everything uttered by the right. Think about it–if your opponent knows that if it steps left, you’ll step right (or vice-versa), it has a great deal of say over what you do. No one ever won a fight by telegraphing his moves.

    At any rate, if we’re going to trash Scalia, let’s get his dang claims right. Let’s show the world we can read. We can, can’t we?

  • Zorntap

    This has nothing at all to do with the state discriminating against the non-faithful. All Scalia is saying is that no Constitutional requirement exists for the state to take a neutral stance in regard to faith vs. no faith. We can argue that a pro-faith state is necessarily one that discriminates against the non-faithful–and God knows we hear nothing but that claim on the left. But what we shouldn’t do is pretend the Constitution weighs in on the issue. It doesn’t.

    We have to face the reality that there are many, many issues on which the Constitution says nothing. Our founders wrote a sketchy instruction manual for our democracy over 200 years ago, not even knowing if their plan would last 20 years. They weren’t Nostradamus–they had no idea what was coming down the pike. If we insist on turning to the C. for the last word on everything, then we have to face the reality that, on many an important issue, it has nothing to say!

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