Thursday, March 1, 2007

Supreme Court hears challenge to Bush's 'faith-based initiative' -By: , Los Angeles Times

In a closely watched church-state separation case, a Bush administration lawyer urged the Supreme Court on Wednesday to shield President Bush's "faith-based initiative" from legal challenges in court.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said taxpayers who believe the White House is unconstitutionally promoting religion should not be accorded legal "standing" to sue in court. It would be too "intrusive on the executive branch" to permit lawsuits contesting how a president and his advisers conduct their affairs, he said.

The case involves a Wisconsin group called Freedom From Religion that sued in 2004 to challenge the "faith-based initiative" on First Amendment grounds. The group said White House officials were using public money to help church-based groups win grants and contracts.

It is the first major religion case to come before the Supreme Court since Bush's two appointees took their seats. In their questions Wednesday, both Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel Alito sounded as though they sided with the administration.

Overall, the nine justices seemed split during the hourlong argument. If they adopt the administration's view, the ruling could make it harder for critics to sue officials who use public money in ways that support religion. Roberts made clear he thought the group's claims should be thrown out of court. If taxpayers can sue the government whenever an official invokes God or religion, why couldn't anyone "sue our marshal for standing up and saying, 'God save the United States and this honorable court'?" asked Roberts, citing the invocation heard each day when the justices enter the court.

Taking the opposite view, Justice Stephen Breyer said courts and lawsuits are needed to enforce the separation of church and state.

"People become terribly upset when they see some other religion getting the money from the state" to subsidize their faith, he said.

This article appeared on page A - 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle


Jesse said...

Excuse me; but when I hear the United Methodist Church gets money to charity; I don't roll up in a wad of tears. The money helps victims of all faiths; and I honestly don't care where the money went through. I simply think that there is a liberal bias against religion in general; and refuse to see all the good it can do.

Heather Annastasia said...

The issue isn't whether churches help people. Many of them do, sometimes with no strings attached.

The issue is giving government money to church charities INSTEAD OF secular charities.

Now, if the government wants to help ALL charities, regardless of whether or not they are "faith-based," that's fine.

The bias is when charities only get grants from the government if they are religious charities.

And anyway Bush's Faith-Based Initiative turned out to be a load of crap to get votes from religious people. There are hundreds of faith-based organizations coming out now saying they never got a dime!

Just a bunch of hot air to make Bush look like a man of faith when he is actually a man of money and power.

See the ball? See the ball? Go get the Ball!

Jason said...

How did I miss this story?

Savage, Hezbollah is a very religious organization, and a good example. They won the loyalty of a country with charity and used them as pawns. In a very serious sense it lead to a slaughter.

If you want to help people, that should be your only motivation, there should be no other agenda. This philosophy is consistent with Jesus' teachings.

The fact that this administration takes audience of religous extremists is bad. The evidence of these people affecting legislation and distribution of public funds is not only bad, but detrimental to our well being.