religion

"Have To" History: A Wall of Separation

H2H: Supreme CourtThe First Amendment contains six specific protections, somewhat related, and presumably so very important that they all tied for first when the Framers were debating what to guarantee the mostiest mostest. These are the biggies that squeezed in ahead of militias and quartering of soldiers, and even beat out due process in order of presentation. The right to protest. The right to associate with whomever you wish, including but certainly not limited to political organizations of any and all stripes. Freedom of the press and of speech – absolute linchpins to any nation hoping to maintain the slightest credibility as a true democracy.

But coming ahead of all of them – earning the first two slots in all of Amendment-dom – are the twin ‘freedom of religion’ clauses.

Moment of Silence - Bown v. Gwinnett County School District (1997) / Brown v. Gilmore (2001)

Two cases in the early 1960s largely eliminated state-sponsored prayer from public schooling. Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington v. Schempp (1963) are to this day touted by the far right as responsible for having kicked God out of schools – leading inevitably to sex, drugs, violence, rock’n’roll, corduroy, divorce, the pill, AIDS, the Clintons, terrorism, and a Kenyan sleeper-cell Mooslim illegitimately seizing the White House for eight long, painful years.

The solution, of course, is to get God back IN our schools by requiring regimented recitation of state-approved chants. He LOVES those! Do this, we are assured, and America’s problems will vanish faster than you can say “civil liberties!”

A Wall of Separation - The Story So Far...

Church and StateNow that the elections are over and all that is good or true in the world has been destroyed, I'm trying to shift my focus back to educational stuff. You know, the things that at one time seemed important enough to shape the title of this blog?

Here's my in-progress summary of cases involving church/state issues in relation to public schooling - and a few which aren't.

A Wall of Separation - Agostini v. Felton (1997)

ABC JesusIn 1985, the Supreme Court heard a case from NYC in which public school teachers were being sent into parochial schools to provide remedial education to disadvantaged students. It was decided in Aguilar v. Felton (1985) that this created an excessive entanglement of church and state, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as applied to the states via the Fourteenth.

Twelve years later, the Court changed its mind.

A Wall of Separation - Abington v. Schempp (1963)

Magical LightCases don’t just magically appear in the Supreme Court. Except in rare circumstances, they begin as local disputes, sometimes working their way up through District Courts. By the time a case comes before the highest court in the land, it’s often been going on in some form for several years.

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