Here Are the Biggest Church/State Separation Cases Facing the Next Supreme Court

Oct 8, 2018

By Hemant Mehta

With Brett Kavanaugh‘s ascendance to the Supreme Court, there’s now a solid conservative bloc that isn’t going away anytime soon. Those five justices are all male and all Roman Catholic (though Neil Gorsuch‘s religious label is up for debate). The question isn’t whether they’ll tear down between church and state; it’s how quickly they’ll do it and which parts of the wall they’ll destroy first.

So let’s look at some of the major cases that the Court could be taking up this session and what could happen as a result:

City of Pensacola, Florida v. Kondrat’yev and Maryland-National Capital Park v. American Humanist Association
These two cases involve giant Christian crosses on public property in Pensacola (Florida) and Prince George’s County (Maryland), respectively.

In the Pensacola case, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the cross in Bayview Park needed to come down, but the judges made very clear their decision was based on legal precedent which they were bound to follow. In other words, they were pleading to the Supreme Court to take up the case and reverse it.

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One comment on “Here Are the Biggest Church/State Separation Cases Facing the Next Supreme Court”

  • I see there is impending Canadian clash in Quebec over separation of church and state, , but the secularists’ leaders are not helping themselves or the cause of secularism with a biased approach!!

    The newly-elected premier of Quebec in Canada has raised eyebrows by saying a crucifix hanging in the provincial legislature is not a religious symbol.

    François Legault’s remarks come despite his government plan to ban civil servants from wearing items of clothing such as hijabs and the Jewish skullcap.

    The policy has been widely criticised as it targets minority groups.

    A 2008 report said the crucifix which has been hanging in the legislature since 1936 should be removed.

    But the Quebec government refused to implement its findings.

    The debate over religious symbols in Quebec public life has been a perennial issue for the past decade.

    In 2014, the Parti Quebecois proposed a so-called Charter of Values bill, that would ban all public servants from wearing “ostentatious” religious symbols or clothing.

    Many decried the bill as Islamophobic and anti-Semitic, but proponents said the law was meant to promote secularism and separate Church and state.

    Since winning a majority in last week’s election, Mr Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec party has renewed the call to ban all religious symbols, and has even said he would consider firing teachers who refused to comply with the ban.

    “We have to understand our past,” Mr Legault said.

    “In our past we had Protestants and Catholics. They built the values we have in Quebec. We have to recognise that and not mix that with religious signs.”

    His willingness to ban religious symbols – whilst refusing to take the crucifix down from the legislature – has drawn much criticism.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is from Quebec, said the state had no right to tell women who wear the hijab what they can and cannot wear.

    MONTREAL — The incoming Coalition Avenir Quebec government is facing criticism for saying it has no intention of removing the crucifix from the legislature, even as it plans to crack down on some civil servants who wear religious symbols.

    Simon Jolin-Barrette, a spokesman for the Coalition transition team, said Tuesday there is no contradiction between the new government’s plan to impose strict religious-neutrality rules on certain public servants and its desire to maintain the crucifix.

    He said the crucifix, which has hung behind the Speaker’s chair since the 1930s, is part of Quebec’s heritage.

    But Patrick Taillon, a professor in Universite Laval’s faculty of law, called that a double standard.

    “The government can’t talk out of both sides of its mouth,” he said in an interview.

    “I can’t see how, on the political level, we want religious neutrality and secularism and not apply that standard at the national assembly.”

    Ah! The art of compartmentalisation and NIMBYism, in the brain of the religious politician!

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