I’ve written elsewhere (and will have more to say soon, since I’ve got a lecture deadline) about the Supreme Court’s quite breathtaking (in a good way) decision in the Arizona tuition tax credit case. Hard on the heels of that decision comes an appellate decision against one of my least favorite church-state litigators, the Freedom From Religion Foundation , which (a 7th Circuit panel held) did not have the standing to sue in seeking an injunction against the President’s declaration of a National Day of Prayer. As Judge Frank Easterbrook, writing for the panel, wryly observes:
Section 119 imposes duties on the President alone. It does not require any private person to do anything—or for that matter to take any action in response to whatever the President proclaims. If anyone suffers injury, therefore, that person is the President, who is not complaining.
I hope the FFRF appeals and the Supreme Court takes the case, because Judge Easterbrook raises some penetrating questions about the line of reasoning first articulated by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor regarding the ways in which government sponsorship of some religious display—the proverbial Christmas creche—constitutes an “endorsement” of religion and hence a violation of the establishment clause. Once again, Judge Easterbrook:
The arguments in this and the tuition tax credit case could lead to a wholesale revision of some unfortunate First Amendment jurisprudence dating back some thirty years at least. It’s high time.
One last point: if this happens, we would have the Obama Administration to thank for it. In both of these cases, the Obama Administration forcefully made arguments about the plaintiffs’ lack of standing.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?