Freedom From Religion Foundation in Supreme Court Recap

After a day in the Supreme Court and a flurry of articles written about the case, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (whose membership has recently spiked to over an astounding 9,100+) isn’t done yet.

On Saturday, you can listen to Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor talk about their experience in court on Freethought Radio (The Mic 92.1 in Madison, Wisconsin). For the rest of us, we can download the podcast shortly thereafter.

Also, this Sunday on ABC’s World News Sunday, Dan and Annie Laurie will be interviewed by reporter Dan Harris. Among other topics, they will speak on “the renaissance of atheism” in America today.

[tags]atheist, atheism, Supreme Court, FFRF, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freethought Radio, The Mic 92.1, Madison, Wisconsin, ABC, World News Sunday, Dan Harris[/tags]

  • vjack

    FFRF is an organization that does a lot of good things, so I am happy to hear that this case is boosting their membership.

  • Richard Wade

    When I read the case I immediately joined FFRF. But if we get a favorable decision from this Court, patiently stacked by two Bushes, it will be, well… a “miracle,” but I’ve been accused of irrational optimism before.

  • TXatheist

    If the federal government gives money directly to a religious school or organization in a manner that clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, can anyone sue to stop it? The answer should be obvious: any taxpayer should be able to sue to prevent his or her tax dollars from being used in a manner that is an unconstitutional establishment of religion.

    Unfortunately, President Bush and the religious right disagree.

    On Wednesday, February 28, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Hein v Freedom from Religion Foundation, a case that threatens to make the federal government completely immune from challenges when it spends money to support religion.

    In a 1968 court case, Flast v Cohen, the Supreme Court recognized an exception to the usual rule that a person cannot sue as a taxpayer to stop the spending of money that violates the Constitution. In that case, the Court said that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was meant to be a limit on Congress’s taxing and spending power and that therefore taxpayers do have standing to enforce its commands.

    Hein v Freedom from Religion Foundation is a challenge to the Bush administration’s unprecedented attempt to funnel money to religious entities providing social services. In his first days as President, George W. Bush created an Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives for the purpose of giving money to religious institutions. The question is whether a taxpayer can bring a challenge to this as violating the Establishment Clause.

    It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court will reaffirm Flast v Cohen and allow taxpayers to challenge this effort to support religion with federal tax dollars. But there is a real possibility that the Court could narrow or even overrule Flast.

    If that happens, then there would be no way to sue to stop the federal government from giving any form of assistance to churches, synagogues, mosques, or other religious entities. The Establishment Clause could be ignored by the federal government and no one could stop it.

    This possibility reaffirms the importance of our nations’s commitment to the seperation of church and state and our fight against the relgious right’s war on this American principle.


    Erwin Chemerinsky
    DefCon advisory board member
    Alston & Bird Professor of Law and Political Science, Duke University.

    P.S. Stay tuned to the DefCon Blog for updates on this case and the Court’s final decision.

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