FFRF Loses Supreme Court Case

Nearly four months ago, the Freedom From Religion Foundation was in the Supreme Court. Their case was over the issue of whether taxpayers had standing to sue the government when it supported religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

Here are recaps of the case and the day in court and highlights from the oral arguments.

Today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision: “Taxpayers have no right to challenge discretionary spending by the executive branch” (according to a press release from Americans United for Separation of Church and State).

“However,” [Americans United Executive Director Rev. Barry] Lynn continued, “it is important to note that this ruling applies to only a few situations. Most church-state lawsuits, including those that challenge congressional appropriations for faith-based programs, will not be affected.”

The full decision can be found here (PDF).

Greg Stohr writes this:

The justices, voting 5-4, said a group of taxpayers lacked the legal right to sue over White House-sponsored conferences designed to help groups compete for social-service funding. The suit contended the sessions promoted religious organizations over secular ones.

“If every federal taxpayer could sue to challenge any government expenditure, the federal courts would cease to function as courts of law and would be cast in the role of general complaint bureaus,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s lead opinion.

The high court said in 1968 that taxpayers could challenge statutes that directed money to be spent for religious purposes. That decision marked an exception to the general rule that Americans can’t go to court to contest how their tax dollars are spent because they don’t have enough of a personal stake in the outcome.

Alito wrote for only himself, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. Alito said the court didn’t need to reconsider the 1968 ruling.

Two other members of the majority — Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — said they would have gone further and overturned the 1968 ruling.

Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer dissented.

Pete Yost of the Associated Press noted this:

In dissent, Justice David Souter said that the court should have allowed the taxpayer challenge to proceed.

The majority “closes the door on these taxpayers because the executive branch, and not the legislative branch, caused their injury,” wrote Souter. “I see no basis for this distinction.”

If you’re not completely pissed off yet, here’s the American Center for Law and Justice‘s Jay Sekulow:

“This is a very significant victory that sends a powerful message that atheists and others antagonistic to religion do not get an automatic free pass to bring Establishment Clause lawsuits…”

What a disappointing ruling.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Freedom From Religion Foundation, FFRF, Supreme Court, Hein, Establishment Clause, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Barry Lynn, Greg Stohr, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Pete Yost, American Center for Law and Justice, Jay Sekulow[/tags]

  • Vincent

    *agonized screaming*

    :-(

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Well, then we should all stop paying our frakking taxes.

    I will not pay taxes to support churches. If I wanted to do that, I would attend church and put money into the offering plate. What a load of crap. When does it become time to stop obeying the law and to participate in acts of civil disobedience?

    This shows why we must do anything and everything to ensure that another Republican president does not get into the whitehouse in the foreseeable future. We must stop this stacking of the courts with reactionary right-wing extremists who prefer the 10 commandments to the 10 Constitutional Amendments in the Bill of Rights. The time for backwards-looking politics (read conservatism) is over. May it die a fast and painful death and never rise again.

  • Karen

    Disappointing, but not surprising.

    So much for Roberts the “centrist” and “moderate.” He’s voted with the conservative bloc in every single one of these civil rights cases, including the recent one denying a woman the right to sue for employment discrimination, the abortion case and a couple of death row cases. These 5-4 decisions are just tearing up our judicial system, and I’m afraid serious damage is being done.

    If only Sandra could’ve held on a few more years … :-(

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I don’t quite grasp the legal reasoning. Any legal eagles here?

    Why does Alito simultaneously argue that this would set a precident that would overwhelm the courts with petitioners against any government expenditure when Flast v. Cohen established that only establishment violations are set up for this, and yet he doesn’t say that Flast should be revisited?

    Isn’t that a contradiction?

    Why is this any different than Flast?

    That Bloomberg article is terrible. It tells us the what, but doesn’t spell out the reasoning. Okay, the taxpayer doesn’t have standing. Standing is very important in these cases. WHY didn’t the taxpayer have standing?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    To tell the truth, I had no idea that this would happen. I thought the government’s case and argument was abysmal.

    Taxpayers should not have the legal right to sue even if the federal government undertakes a program of building houses of worship with public money, a Bush administration lawyer told the Supreme Court Feb. 28.

    U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement was arguing before the high court in a case dealing with legal “standing” — the right to sue. Clement asserted that a group of taxpayers in Wisconsin should not have the right to sue President George W. Bush over his use of general operating funds to promote the “faith-based” initiative.

    Several justices attempted to pin down Clement on the question of when taxpayers can sue. Justice Stephen G. Breyer asked Clement if a taxpayer should have the right to challenge a law that commemorated the Pilgrims “by building a government church at Plymouth Rock where we will have the regular worship in the Puritan religion?”

    “I would say no,” Clement replied.

    Breyer pressed further, asking about a law that required the government to build churches “all over America” that represented a single denomination.

    “Nobody could challenge it?” he asked.

    Again Clement replied, “There would not be taxpayer standing.”

  • Stephan

    I can understand your being against the principle of this, but the outcome is that hungry people will be fed, homeless people will be sheltered, needy people will be cared for. So what if it will be done by people who believe in God? Church organizations have proven to be very good at caring for people. Would you rather these people just stay on the streets and starve?

  • Jack

    “Dissappointing ruling”? It’s outright infuriating!

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    Stephen:

    What an ignorant response! Why should church organizations be enriched by the government for feeding hungry people and sheltering the homeless? Secular agencies could do just as well at giving assistance, and do so more honestly without strongly encouraging (read blackmailing) recipients to accept any silly “message.” The churches, by their own precepts, ought to be providing that kind of aid anyway, without resorting to stealing Caesar’s (taxpayer) money. If their god can’t help them find a way to aid the poor and helpless, perhaps they need to reevaluate their beliefs. Instead, they reassert those beliefs, over and over again, while at the same time sticking their money-grubbing fingers in the citizens’ pockets. What they’re practicing is not charity; it’s theft.

  • Miko

    5-4… what a coincidence. And the five? No surprises there.

    Why does Alito simultaneously argue that this would set a precident that would overwhelm the courts with petitioners against any government expenditure when Flast v. Cohen established that only establishment violations are set up for this, and yet he doesn’t say that Flast should be revisited?

    Isn’t that a contradiction?

    Why is this any different than Flast?

    The distinction is that legislative expenditures are spelled out in bills while the executive branch ones are discretionary and thus there are many more of them, for smaller amounts of money. It’s a lame difference, but it does arguably exist. Not that I support the ruling, of course.

    I can understand your being against the principle of this, but the outcome is that hungry people will be fed, homeless people will be sheltered, needy people will be cared for.

    First off, all of those things were being done in the same amount before Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative: Bush just took money away from groups with a proven track-record of success (including some religious groups) to give the money to churches instead, so the outcome of this case is not feeding the hungry, etc. Second off, every audit I’ve ever seen of the FBI (ahem… that is, Faith-Based Initiative) has found that the majority of churches are not accounting for their funds in a manner consistent with their legal obligations and are instead misusing the funds for solely religious purposes. So in addition to being against it on principle, I’m against it because it’s hurting our efforts in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and caring for the needy. The key thing to remember about the FBI is that it’s not allocating new funds: it’s making it more difficult for secular groups with years of experience and proven effectiveness from getting the funding they need. There was no difficulty previously for religious groups to get such funding as long as they agreed to use it for its stated purpose rather than for prosthelytizing, so the FBI makes sense only if you think that secular groups are less able to accomplish charity work. (Which of course, I don’t.)

  • Stephan

    The Exterminator provided the typical knee-jerk reactionary response. Does anyone have anything thoughtful to say? Maybe with fewer insults and more actual arguments?

  • Vincent

    Miko just did.
    Basically instead of giving money to a secular organization that would, for instance, spend the money on food for the hungry, the president will give money to a church that will spend some of it on food for the hungry and some on bibles for the hungry – only the hungry can’t eat bibles.
    So, less money goes to the hungry.

  • Vincent

    Miko just did.
    Basically instead of giving money to a secular organization that would, for instance, spend the money on food for the hungry, the president will give money to a church that will spend some of it on food for the hungry and some on bibles for the hungry – only the hungry can’t eat bibles.
    So, less food goes to the hungry.

  • Vincent

    Oh, in addition, this money can go to pay the salaries of employees of these charities.
    And as Bush has stated that these charities can discriminate based on ideology, it means more money to particular religious believers.
    Catholic? nope, sorry. Hindu? nope, sorry. Msulim? heavens no! Baptist? why sure! have some government handouts because you believe the way I do!

  • monkeymind

    Hi Stephan:

    I think Miko provides a very thoughtful response that corresponds with my understanding of how the Faith-Based Initiatives program works.

    Before Bush put this into effect, church-based groups like Catholic Charities could compete for federal grant money, but they had to follow the same rules and procedures as secular agencies.

    Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone with a good grasp of history would want churches to be more dependent on federal money.

    I think that neighborhood churches, places like Catholic Worker houses of hospitality, and small neighborhood based charities offer an essential supplement to the government safety net programs, by providing more person-to-person interactions as opposed to bureaucracy. Also they can respond more flexibly to local needs – changes on the federal level happen very slowly.

    I think that the government safety net should be strengthened, too, but churches can play an important role – as long as they remain independent.

    According to its former director, the office of Faith-based Initiatives never did much anyway. It was a pretty cynical gesture to keep the right’s religious base satisfied. But it’s a very bad precedent, IMO.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Three points against it, Stephan, from my point of view.

    1. As Miko said, this isn’t providing any new funds for feeding or helping people, it’s just shuffling around the money based on religiosity.

    2. This smells like a cash kickback to the churches for moblilzing republican votes every election day. Let’s say my church gets FBI funds every year for our food bank. We get USED to having that money in our budget. Are we likely to vote for the Dems next november, knowing that if they win, we’ve got to pursue even more private fundrasing next year just to keep our services at the current level? I’m not saying that churches are doing this by anything other than positive motivations. But even with the best of motivations, this makes churches the servants of politicians, not the other way around.

    3: The Bush Administration lawyer used this line of argumentation to assert that the Executive Branch (which may or may not include Dick Cheney) could establish a nationwide church and citizens couldn’t sue. This worries me for its precident-setting possibilities. If a citizen cannot sue when the Executive violates the Establisment Clause, then it seems to me we have no Establisment Clause.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    And I cannot spell establishment.

  • Stephan

    Thanks to several of you for your thoughtful responses. I agree with much of what you said. I believe that money from the government should only go for non-proselytizing functions, such as food and clothes. I also agree that churches are better off with private donations rather than government money.

    Without numbers to back it up, I would think that religious groups are often better at helping the poor than non-religious groups, partly because they would be better at raising money and enlisting volunteers. Since Christians are told in scripture to help the poor, it hopefully gives them a higher motivation for getting involved financially and physically.

    Also, giving groups more leeway in how to spend the funds can help them to be more inventive and effective with how it is used. It is, however, a double-edged sword, as it also opens the door for misuse of funds.

    As always, I appreciate how much thought many of you put into your statements. And any win in the Supreme Court by a religious group can tend to backfire, as the same rules that apply to a Christian church should, in theory, apply to Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans and any other faith-based group. Imagine how hot those Baptists would get if a group used FBI funds to coerce people into pledging allegiance to the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  • Miko

    Without numbers to back it up, I would think that religious groups are often better at helping the poor than non-religious groups, partly because they would be better at raising money and enlisting volunteers.

    Having seen numbers to back it up in the past, I would think the opposite. For one thing, the church seems to have a huge problem with embezzlement. According to a study by Villanova University, 85% of U.S. dioceses have detected it in their audits in the last 5 years, with 11% of cases involving more than 500,000 dollars.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1590435,00.html

    I don’t have any sources specifically on the FBI on me now, but I’ve seen reports in the past detailing high-levels of misuse of funds there as well. Especially now that Bush has extended the program into infrastructure building, meaning church groups can ask for money with no oversight whatsoever to buy whatever they want on the grounds that they may decide to do charitable work at some point in the future.

    But in the end, such distinctions aren’t worth making. There are going to be good secular groups and good religious groups as well as bad secular groups and bad religous groups. We should be focusing on helping the good groups rather than on helping the religious groups.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    Oh, Stephan.

    You pretend to solicit “thoughtful responses” from people about Faith-Based Initiatives, and you’re given quite a few. But then you still write: Without numbers to back it up, I would think that religious groups are often better at helping the poor than non-religious groups.

    See, this is the kind of unsubstantiated statement that gets some atheists pissed off. We’ve been hearing that kind of faith-based rah-rah for a long time. When we challenge it, we’re accused of being knee-jerk. So let me ask you a non-knee-jerk question and see if you can give me a non-knee-jerk answer:

    You said: I believe that money from the government should only go for non-proselytizing functions, such as food and clothes.

    How do you propose that a church or its affiliate be non-proselytizing? Perhaps it may not actively preach to the needy it assists, but how can it squelch its obvious religious message so that god doesn’t get tied up in the whole package?

    If you’re suggesting that churches act as if they were secular agencies, why not just fund secular agencies? If, on the other hand, you’re suggesting that churches (or their organizational affiliates) act as religious entities, how could you keep some degree of subtle proselytizing out of the mix?

  • Jen

    I agree. I think churches can have whatever helpful organizations they want, but with their own money, not the government’s. And certainly they can volunteer at secular organizations- and why wouldn’t they, if they are such fantastic volunteers?

  • miller

    From what I can tell, the case wasn’t at all about whether faith-based initiatives were illegal, but whether taxpayers can sue. They argue that if they allow them to sue, taxpayers could and would sue over every little bit of budget that goes into something they don’t like. I don’t really see what’s wrong with this argument, provided that there is some other way to hold the government accountable for illegal budgeting. I wonder what other way is suggested by the Supreme Court.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    From what I can tell, the case wasn’t at all about whether faith-based initiatives were illegal, but whether taxpayers can sue.

    Correct. At issue was the question of standing. Do citizens have the standing to sue the Government for this? The answer seems to be, “when congress does it, yes, when the Executive does it, no.”

    Which does bring up your question: if it is indeed unconstitutional, who gets to bring that challenge, and in what forum?

    Who has standing? Who is wronged by a violation of the establishment clause? God?

  • Mriana

    Well this is a sad day in history. I wonder if our forefathers are rolling over in their graves?

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I wonder if any religionist in America even cares.

    All they know is that they won a court case against atheists who didn’t want them to help the poor. Probably because atheists are social darwinists who want the poor to die so as to better the race.

    That’s what Bill O’Reilly will tell them.

    Stephan summed it up brilliantly. Sorry Stephan, but your perspective was telling…

    I can understand your being against the principle of this, but the outcome is that hungry people will be fed, homeless people will be sheltered, needy people will be cared for.

    I take it from that that Stephan doesn’t share our respect for the principle of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. As long as a short-term good is achieved, the First Amendment is more of a guideline.

    What should chill him to the bone, and would chill me even if I were a Christian, was the fact that the Government’s own lawyer, in front of the supreme court, argued that the President could establish a National Church and citizens would not be able to sue.

    Let that one sink in.

  • valhar2000

    This ruling is not disappointing, it is catastrophic. For decades, the judiciary has been the only bulwark that secularism had in the US against the fierce onslaught of the Religious Right, since the religious moderates were unwilling to do anything mroe than pay lip service to these ideals, and atheisst and agnostics were too scared and powerless to do anything.

    Now, the Religious Right has finally infitrated the judiciary enough to begin eroding its ability to proctect the fundamental rights of all americans, as this ruling shows. From now on, it will only get worse. Soon there will no longer be any legal recourse against the attack of the religious.

    Theocracy awaits.

  • Mriana

    Sadly, I believe you are right, Valhar. :(

  • Stephan

    Of course, the other failure is in our whole system of checks and balances. Congress is supposed to be the other counter-weight in the equation, and they have clearly failed in that respect. They tend to go whichever way the wind blows, and at the time FBI came up Bush had the wind at his back. There is no way it would pass now.

    To be clear on how I believe churches should use public funds – If they hand out food and clothes, but require recipients to attend a church service, I believe that would be misuse of the funds. They should perform their service to the public with no strings attached.

    Theocracy awaits.

    Also, the sky is falling. Let’s go tell the king.

    If any of you think a state church is even a remote possibility you are suffering from grand paranoid delusions. The Christian church in America is far too diverse to allow that to happen. Would it be a Catholic church? All protestants would revolt. Would it be a Pentecostal church? All traditionalists would revolt. Would it be a conservative evangelical church? All mainline churches would revolt. Not to even mention Scientologists, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, etc.

    It’s fine for you to fight for the establishment clause, but once you start making ridiculous statements like “theocracy awaits”, you deserve the derision you will receive.

  • Karen

    Here’s what the New York Times editorial page had to say about this ruling and two other First Amendment cases decided yesterday:

    The Supreme Court hit the trifecta yesterday: Three cases involving the First Amendment. Three dismaying decisions by Chief Justice John Roberts’s new conservative majority.
    Chief Justice Roberts and the four others in his ascendant bloc used the next-to-last decision day of this term to re-open the political system to a new flood of special-interest money, to weaken protection of student expression and to make it harder for citizens to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state. In the process, the reconfigured court extended its noxious habit of casting aside precedents without acknowledging it …

    Moreover, the professed devotion to the First Amendment did not extend to allowing taxpayers to challenge White House aid to faith-based organizations as a violation of church-state separation. The controlling opinion by Justice Samuel Alito offers a cockeyed reading of precedent and flimsy distinctions between executive branch initiatives and Congressionally authorized spending to deny private citizens standing to sue. That permits the White House to escape accountability when it improperly spends tax money for religious purposes.

  • Vincent

    Stephan, here’s one problem with your position:

    ChurchN has an annual budget of X.
    X is divided into Y and Z (Y + Z = X).
    Every year, churchN spends Z on what you termed public service.
    Every year, churchN spends Y on prostheletizing and infrastructure (stained glass windows for example).

    Last year the President gave secular groupM Q dollars to spend on public services.
    Next year the President gives ChurchN Q dollars in the FBI program (and nothing to secular groupM).
    ChurchN spends Q dollars on public service.
    You say that’s fine.
    But now church decides it can spend X on prostheletizing and infrastructure.
    Even if they are required to spend Q on public service, they can spend Y and Z on anything they want. They are achieving their public service goal with Q so they can spend more on themselves.

    Net result? ChurchN booms, but the needy get Q in social services when previously they got Q+Z. Those who need are worse off than before, and the church is the only one who benefits.

  • valhar2000

    Stephan,

    You might be right, but for the fact that it is not a Pentecostal, or a Baptist, or a Catholic Church that gets established, but just “Christianity”. It makes sense for the politicians to do this, since this appeals to all the Christian groups, whereas going into specifics would result in the kind of infighting you suggest.

    This is why the rights of the non-religious (and of the religious too, as will become clear eventually) are being quietly eroded, without the supposed majority of believers who are good people even noticing that anything strange is going on.

    Have you not noticed how much of the government is composed of people who listen to an invisible man in the sky, are proud to say so, and make policy decisions with no other justification? Have you not noticed how it has now become fashionable, on the right, to say that everyone has to be more Christian, and on the Left, that everyone is Christian enough as long as they are Christian?

    Of course you haven’t, nor would you care if you did. After all, it’s those damn atheists’ fault! All they have to do is believe like everyone else and they’ll be nice and happy, fitting in…

  • Stephan

    Vincent, valid points, but what is the alternative? Religious organizations don’t qualify for government programs to help the needy? Doesn’t that sound like discrimination based on religious beliefs?

    Ah, the establishment clause cuts both ways.

  • Mriana

    Of course you haven’t, nor would you care if you did. After all, it’s those damn atheists’ fault! All they have to do is believe like everyone else and they’ll be nice and happy, fitting in…

    So, Valhar, are you saying you want everyone to believe in a myth, even when they know it’s a myth? That makes even less sense.

  • Darryl

    Vincent, valid points, but what is the alternative? Religious organizations don’t qualify for government programs to help the needy? Doesn’t that sound like discrimination based on religious beliefs?

    Ah, the establishment clause cuts both ways.

    Stephan, you don’t have the foggiest notion of what you’re talking about. Tell me, just what do you think are the two cutting edges of the establishment clause? Do you think that prior to the FBI program that the federal government was discriminating against religious organizations based on religious beliefs?

  • stogoe

    Can we impeach or disbar the five fascists on the Supreme Court? Dear non-existant Gob, have they come down in favor of theocracy in all their recent rulings.

    Stephan, you seem like a disingenuous wanker to me. Kindly go die in a fire. The Faith-Based Initiatives have instructed the guv’mint to throw money only at loyal religious right churches. Before that, there was no religious test.

  • Stephan

    Valhar, your paranoia is frightening. Get help.

    Darryl, it was Vincent that suggested churches should not be eligible for government programs to help the needy. I never said there was a religious test, but Vincent suggested that there should be. Here’s the double-edged sword – if the government makes money available for non-profit organizations to help the needy, they shouldn’t say only Christian groups, or secular groups, or Muslim groups can have access to the money. Vincent seems to be suggesting that they should. Since those awful Christians can’t be trusted to not pocket the money they should not get any. But there should be no religious test. That’s all I’m saying. For that reason it would be fine with me if FBI went away. It has not done much good and it has caused problems such us the one we are discussing here.

    Stogoe, I can feel the love.

  • Mriana

    You know the more I read about this, the more I get ticked off because so many times it states, “No one can challenge the President’s Faith-based inititive programs.” If we can’t challenge him on that, what is next? We can’t challenge him on Women’s reproductive rights, stem cell research, the war, etc?

  • Tim

    Here’s the double-edged sword – if the government makes money available for non-profit organizations to help the needy, they shouldn’t say only Christian groups, or secular groups, or Muslim groups can have access to the money. Vincent seems to be suggesting that they should.

    I think he was trying to say that all organizations should be allowed to receive funding based on the same premises, and not just on whether or not they are a religious group, as opposed to “religious groups shouldn’t receive funding at all.” Am I correct, Vincent?

    You know the more I read about this, the more I get ticked off because so many times it states, “No one can challenge the President’s Faith-based inititive programs.” If we can’t challenge him on that, what is next? We can’t challenge him on Women’s reproductive rights, stem cell research, the war, etc?

    It’s the same tactic Bush has used since the beginning: He can’t stand the fact that people disagree with him. It’s not enough that we can’t legally do anything about it—he seeks a society in which we are all forced to publicly acknowledge him as a positive force. Just last Thursday I was at a protest in Mobile when Bush came for a Jeff Sessions fundraiser, and when his car drove by, he wouldn’t even look at us–his head was turned towards the other side of the road the whole time. He and his cronies refuse to acknowledge dissent in any way, shape or form, and this new ruling is just another example of that.

  • Mriana

    I know, the Shrub et al are ruthless tyrants who expect us to kiss their royal hineys. :roll:

  • Richard Wade

    He and his cronies refuse to acknowledge dissent in any way, shape or form, and this new ruling is just another example of that.

    The dissent just has to get a lot louder, that’s all. Oh where are the young hotheads like I was in the sixties? “Hey, hey L.B.J, how many kids did you kill today?” “Hell, no we won’t go!” “Dick Nixon before he dicks you!”

    Is everybody between the ages of 17 and 30 just watching American Idol?

  • valhar2000

    So, Valhar, are you saying you want everyone to believe in a myth, even when they know it’s a myth? That makes even less sense.

    Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

    Valhar, your paranoia is frightening. Get help.

    Oh, boy, I’m an atheist who does not submit docilely to christian opression: I must be crazy!

  • Miko

    Can we impeach or disbar the five fascists on the Supreme Court?

    Now that we can’t do, but we could change the number of judges on the Supreme Court. That’s just controlled by Act of Congress, not by the Constitution, so if one party ever manages to get a 60 vote majority to vote for cloture in the Senate and the presidency at the same time, they could technically say “You know, nine judges isn’t enough to decide such important issues. Why don’t we increase it to fifteen? We’ll just appoint another six judges now.” Not going to happen, of course.

  • Mriana

    valhar2000 said,

    June 27, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Mriana said,

    So, Valhar, are you saying you want everyone to believe in a myth, even when they know it’s a myth? That makes even less sense.

    Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

    I hope it’s sarcasm.

  • Vincent

    Don’t know if anyone is still following this thread. I missed it when it went off the front page. So, if anyone’s still reading….

    Stephan:
    “it was Vincent that suggested churches should not be eligible for government programs to help the needy. I never said there was a religious test, but Vincent suggested that there should be.”

    Did not. I defy you to point to any place in my comments where I suggested there should be a religious test or that churches should not be eligible for government programs.

    I object to religious groups getting preference. In fact, I object to the question of the group’s religious position even being mentioned or inquired into.
    I do think it is impossible to ensure that the money is all directed to public good if it’s filtered through an organization that does non-charitable work in addition to its charitable work. Thus track record to me seems to be the best way of differentiating between organizations, and in that I would include the percentage of donations that actually get to the served community.

  • Tim

    The dissent just has to get a lot louder, that’s all. Oh where are the young hotheads like I was in the sixties? “Hey, hey L.B.J, how many kids did you kill today?” “Hell, no we won’t go!” “Dick Nixon before he dicks you!”

    Is everybody between the ages of 17 and 30 just watching American Idol?

    Hey, I’m 19 as of last Thursday, and I hate Bush (and American Idol)!

    Seriously, though….I wish people who thought like that lived around here….people in my neighborhood/town/city are a bunch of rednecks and pro-Bushies, or people who don’t give a shit.

    What really pisses me off is when some jerk like Dennis Miller goes on Jay Leno and says that Bush is a good president simply because we haven’t had any widely-publicized terror attacks since 9/11. And to that I say, “Does 9/11 not count? You know, that was during Bush’s administration, too, but we always seem to skip that one over when we’re debating his competence.”

    It seems to me that the only people who defend him do so on the grounds that he “learned from that mistake.” Which is a sick joke, really, because we pay him not to make mistakes like that.

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