Wall Of Separation Between Church And State Essay Prompts

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Separation Of Church State

Strengthen the Separation between Church and State Essay

1548 Words7 Pages

Strengthen the Separation between Church and State

First Amendment issues of the separation of church and state and state establishment of religion have long been litigated in the federal courts. Until recently, the Supreme Court had a consistent track record of preventing the intermingling of religion and government, especially when it came to the nation's public schools. Yet this past year, a newly activist conservative court has set about rewriting some of the Warren Court's judicial legacy. In the 1995 case of Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, declared that the University of Virginia was constitutionally required to subsidize a student religious magazine on the same basis as secular…show more content…

The majority opinion was justified on First Amendment free speech grounds, arguing that state funding, if provided for secular organizations, must also be available for an overtly religious publication. Yet this line of argument implies that government refusal to subsidize religious writings is somehow stifling the free speech of the writers involved. In other words, the court ruled that it is legally impossible for the state to remain neutral in the realm of religion. Neutrality, according to the Supreme Court, constitutes a latent form of suppression.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a court moderate who cast the deciding vote, justified her anguished decision in a deeply troubled concurring opinion. In it, she echoed the concurring opinion of fellow moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy, emphasizing that the state funding was indirect, coming directly from student activity fees, and that the newspapers would be printed on printers not owned by the school. O'Connor also stressed that this specific case lay in a gray area between protected free speech and prohibition of religious funding by government, and warned court observers not to interpret this case in a broader context. This disclaimer is mildly reassuring to those who cherish the First Amendment's establishment clause. But in view of the court's unpredictable and volatile recent past, the comfort one can draw from such a disclaimer is minimal at best.

Naturally, the religious right

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