Can the Wall Between Church and State Survive Brett Kavanaugh?

Public schools are educational institutions, not temples of religious indoctrination. For over half a century, the Supreme Court has thus recognized that the Constitution prohibits public schools from imposing prayer on children and that religious education is the province of parents and religious communities, not government bureaucrats.  

On Wednesday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, however, strongly suggested that he disagrees and that, if confirmed, he will vote to weaken the separation of church and state in public schools. Although the ACLU neither endorses nor opposes Supreme Court nominees, we do have an obligation to analyze Kavanaugh's judicial record on areas that impact core civil liberties and civil rights.  

During the second day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) questioned Kavanaugh about the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Texas public-school students. In a 6-3 ruling, the court held in Santa Fe that the school could not cede its loudspeaker system to students, who would then deliver prayers at the start of football games.  

Cornyn and Kavanaugh have a special interest in the case. Then the attorney general of Texas, Cornyn argued the case before the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh helped him prepare for the oral argument and separately wrote a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of two congressmen, supporting the school district. 

In the brief, Kavanaugh argued that the school district had created a platform for student speech before football games and was thus constitutionally required to allow students to impose prayer on their classmates. The Supreme Court rejected this reasoning, ruling that the school had not created a neutral forum open to myriad student speakers but, instead, had effectively manipulated the situation from the start to ensure that a prayer would be given at each game. Because those prayers took place at a school event, over the public-address system, and with the school’s involvement, the court concluded that students would easily perceive them as being “stamped” with the “school’s seal of approval.”

The court also noted that, even if the school had established a neutral forum for speech, it would not necessarily shield the school from scrutiny under the Establishment Clause principles that govern the separation of church and state. That makes sense with respect to situations like the one in Santa Fe because many students would feel significant peer pressure to participate in such prayers or face ridicule and ostracism. As the court explained, the First Amendment forbids public schools from exacting this type of  “religious conformity from a student as the price of joining her classmates at a varsity football game.”

In discussing Santa Fe yesterday, Cornyn read from Justice Rehnquist’s dissent and insisted that the ruling was somehow hostile to religion. Kavanaugh did not disagree, which is not surprising, given his professed admiration for Justice Rehnquist as a “judicial hero.” Indeed, his amicus brief in Santa Fe went even further, proclaiming that a decision in favor of our student clients and their families would pave the path toward a “the full extermination of private religious speech from the public schools” and an “Orwellian world.”  

An attorney’s words written on behalf of clients don’t necessarily reflect his or her personal views, but in a confirmation hearing that has been sorely lacking in transparency, Kavanaugh made crystal clear that he agrees with what he wrote nearly two decades ago.

Both he and Cornyn announced that the decision still sticks in their craws. And, responding to Cornyn’s claim that Santa Fe was hostile to religion, Kavanaugh pointed to subsequent Supreme Court decisions like Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, Town of Greece v. Galloway, and Good News Club v. Milford Central School District, as “developments since [Santa Fe] in terms of religious equality and religious liberty that are important.”

Those three cases have one thing in common: They each watered down protections for the separation of church and state.

Regardless, these cases should have no bearing on Santa Fe’s continuing validity. That Kavanaugh believes otherwise is troubling, to say the least. Nothing in the decisions suggests that the government may use school-attendance laws to corral children into public schools and then forcibly subject them to prayer at any and all school events just because the prayer happens to be delivered by their peers rather than their teachers. That would be Orwellian.

But that is exactly what could — and likely will — happen if Kavanaugh’s view were to prevail. Public-school students could be subjected to prayer during every school event, from school-day assemblies to football games to awards ceremonies and, yes, even in the classroom, so long as the school purports to set up a “forum” for speech.

Make no mistake, contrary to Kavanaugh’s prediction in his amicus brief two decades ago, public-school students have broad religious-expression rights, which we do not hesitate to defend. The right to engage in voluntary prayer and religious expression in public schools, however, does not and should not include the right to create captive student audiences or to compel other students to participate. 

We’ve seen what happens when public-school officials allow prayer to be imposed on children like our clients in Santa Fe: Students who don’t follow the same religious beliefs as many of their peers feel immense pressure to participate, and those who resist that pressure often end up being ostracized from their school community and beyond. This is at odds with public schools’ mandate to serve all students, including students of every faith and those of none. And it can’t be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s longstanding precedent governing the separation of church and state in our schools. 

Based on Kavanaugh’s testimony yesterday, if he’s confirmed, we’ll need a Hail Mary to prevent that precedent from being severely undermined or worse — overturned.

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Gary Markle

~ The Separation Of Church And Hate:

There is a good reason why Church and State must always remain separate. Let’s get something straight, right from the start: A theocratic state is not a free state, and never will be. I’m sure it was never Jesus’ intention nor was it His will that anyone should be dominated in His name, the name of Christ. That is the will of men. To be accurate, the concept in itself is anti-Christian. You can only follow Christ by choice, not by legislation.

It seems some people are more intent on casting stones at perceived sinners than propagating the love of Christ. ~ “Above all else, I command you love one another”. ~ This was the message that Jesus preached, and as far as I can see, the worth of a soul will only be measured as such. But I can assure you of one thing, when your time of judgment comes, you won’t be asked to recite scripture, but rather, if anything, the question will be: Did you get the message and live by it?

For all of you people out there on the religious right, you should try to remember that looking for sins to condemn, and people to persecute in the name of God, is simply Satan’s way of keeping you from seeing what is good and praiseworthy. It’s Satan’s favorite means of deceit; getting people to hate and kill each other in the name of God and Christ Jesus. Twisting scripture to incite hatred and division.

Understand this; that by doing so, you are defaming the name of Christ, associating Jesus with bigotry and hate. Jesus was never cursed with these feelings, these sins that you commit in His name. It’s widely agreed that He rose above it all, and to use His name for the justification of spreading contempt and hatred for anyone is true heresy. It isn’t Pro-Christ by any means, but clearly Anti-Christ.
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~ It doesn't really seem to matter at this point whether you believe in God and Christ or not. What we have are Anti-Christians, the antithesis of the persona Jesus, and they are attempting, through legislation, to declare America to be a theocratic state and nation, legitimizing discrimination under the false guise of "religious freedom". If you're not one of the "chosen" you're fair game for persecution, oppression and abuse. It’s a perfect "us" and "them" scenario. If you express opposing views to the “Order” or you're a non-believer, or in any way perceived as a “sinner”, they'll be coming for you.

~ Anti-Christians ~ The scriptures flow as sweet as honey from their lips, seducing and robbing in the name of God. These are the ones Jesus spoke of that would come in the End Times and deceive many in His name. Anti-Christians: You will know them by their bigotry, their hatred, and their contempt for “others”.

AnonymouS

Isn't it like a Judas kiss, to betray the faith with dissension? Evangelicals are new to the faith, recently baptized, and are barely getting their 'sea legs' while learning how the body of Christ works. New believers get that way, from the tumult of dealing with how to best use their talents free of their sinful nature, they concentrate their zeal in politics. They figure they can't quite get there, because everyone else is keeping them back from their faith, so they will influence the law to make it so. Their growing faith, hasn't developed enough to break beyond religious dogma, to see how everything already is Christ-endowed, and there's not a single thing they can do to add to it. This is the truism of the Maker and the Made, that they don't understand that their vanity of thinking they can add to it, is itself a sin of desire -- to be on equal footing with the Creator. **Again, IS already the case; they don't have to DO anything. Just BE like Jesus suggested in their life's activities.**

lee

....Religion is a Corporation of belief among those who fantasize with the Supernatural. Although no Scripture prescribed religion as a means to salvation, but that a remarkable person did exist. Insanely, Roman-Catholicism deceived billions of people that Cesare Borgia implicated Jesus, the Son of what mankind refer to as God,...for a status only. Politicians don't have proof that religion is legal, but that..the belief without proof is legislated as so, to avoid taxation and control the masses of their oppressed who also believe that a king or similar exist without force.

Anonymous

Never forget that our First Amendment was created primarily because Christians were persecuting and killing other Christians in the 18th Century Europe and previous centuries. At that time in many European nations the Church was the Government. You might have Anglican Christians torturing and killing Baptists or Catholics, trying to impose their religious interpretation on other churches.

Anonymous

It doesn't matter if you invoke religion or God, it's free speech. The movement to vilify religion is joined at the hip with the anti-American propaganda from the six media conglomerates, who are weakening our country and have become a national security risk far outweighing any "Russian" threats.

Anonymous

Is that you Don Jr.?

Anonymous

Imagine you are an enemy of our country and wish to destroy it. First you seize control of all media, publishing houses, newspapers, entertainment, etc, all of which has been accomplished by fourteen billionaires and their six conglomerates. Then you go about attacking your enemy's strengths, the solid foundations on which the strongest country the planet has ever seen are based upon, which are the constitution, religion and patriotism. The colluding, coordinating and conspiring media makes these pillars of our country appear contemptible. President Trump is exactly right when branding these insidious media conglomerates as 'the enemy of the people'.

OldWhiteGuyVet

Imagine what your life would be like if you were not certifiably insane and in dire need of anti-psychotic medication. You would be able to perceive the world as it actually is, instead of through the prism of your paranoid, neo-fascistic delusions. You could cease dwelling in a netherworld of shadowy conspiracies and irrational furies and begin to think and operate like a normal, decent human being. You might find yourself able to enjoy love, family, friendship and solidarity with your peers. You might even find that you'd be able cogitate intelligently upon a whole host of subjects, without the need to reduce them to the mindless platitudes of a simpleton. Last but not least, the scales would likely drop from your eyes and you would clearly see the man whom a confederacy of dunces like yourself has put in the White House as the amoral, narcissistic pathological liar, charlatan and stooge of Russia he so obviously is. It is in fact scurrilous delusional maniacs like you, my deranged Amero-fascist compatriot, who are the true enemy of the people.

Anonymous

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."
Thomas Jefferson

Stephen

The reason why the U.S. Constitution has lasted so long is because it is based upon the Bible. However, in 1962 and 1963, the Supreme Court decided to say that the Constitution was unconstitutional. Here are the results of that ruling.

Statistical Information
All statistical information herein cited from the WallBuilders video, "America's Godly Heritage"
The 1962 Engle vs. Vitale decision made the following 22-word generic prayer unconstitutional:

"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."

The Supreme Court did a study in conjunction with the 1963 ruling which also removed the Bible from public schools. The findings were that only 3% of the nation's population did not profess any belief in God. Therefore, at the time of these court rulings, some 97% of our nation's population held religious beliefs which were in agreement with the context of that generic school prayer, and which favored Bible reading in classrooms. And yet the Supreme Court chose to make the 3% the "majority" with these decisions by forcing the other 97% to submit to the beliefs of a 3% minority of the population. What kind of justice is that?

Prior to 1962-63, America was advancing morally and leading the world in many social categories. The rates of other less than desirable categories, such as those named below, were either steady or decreasing in America, in spite of the population growth. However, since those two outrageous court decisions, America has sadly become the world leader in all of the following areas:

~ #1 in Violent Crime Rates
~ #1 in Divorce Rates
~ #1 in Illegal Drug Useage
~ #1 in Number of Voluntary Abortions
~ #1 in Teen Pregnancy (western world) and
~ #1 in Illiteracy (western world)

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