the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in favor of Daniel Weisman and his daughter,
Deborah, breaks down this way:
For state/church separation - Blackmun [expected];
Against state/church separation - Reinquist [of course];
Scalia [Pope pal];
Souter has finally emerged as a voice and Kennedy [a Roman Catholic] looked
beyond his indoctrination and reaffirmed the premise of separation that led to
the finding in Murray vs Curlett in 1963 that took prayer out of public school
in the first place. i'm pleasantly surprised and amazed that the Bush bible
beaters took a licking on this one in spite of the unprecedented number of
'amicus' briefs filed by several State governments [in another untested breach
of separation] to forestall a separation affirmation.
this case only applies to elementary and secondary schools, Kennedy was quick
to point out [by way of placation?] and has no effect [other than precedent i
would think] on public universities nor on government prayer meetings at
official functions [that's next on the hit list].
Scalia hyperbolized that this decision has robbed most Americans of their
right to pray in typical, theist puffery. his dissent included: "It is a bold
step for this court to seek to banish ...from thousands of ...celebrations
throughout this land the expression of gratitude to God that a majority of the
community wishes to make." he also pontificated that the ruling "lays waste a
tradition that is as old as graduation ceremonies [it doesn't and they aren't,
of course] themselves."
he probably forgot in his Roman Catholic zeal that the Constitution was the
law and not the Pope. he obviously forgot that the 'majority' he speaks of can
pray their heads off to themselves at any function they wish. he also seems to
have forgotten that the protections of democracy and the Constitutional form
are designed to prevent the 'tyranny of the majority'.
Scalia also carried on about distortion of the facts by the Court majority
calling their arguments "incoherent" and infused with "psychology practiced by
amateurs." he also claims they are destroying an important, unifying [nothing
quite as unifying a religions, each with their own True Faith] American
tradition with "the bulldozer of social engineering." [sigh]
there was no comment from Bush in either of my print sources and i haven't
caught on t.v., yet.
In the majority opinion, Kennedy writes, "The First Amendment's religion
clauses mean that religious belief and religious expression are too precious
to be either proscribed or prescribed by the state." and he writes that
"government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion." he
allowed that although the graduation ceremonies in question were voluntary,
the importance of the occasion and family and peer pressures to attend make a
student's choice illusory.
Souter concurring in a separate opinion, attacked conservative ideas that the
government may promote a diversity of religions and is only prohibited from
coercing religious practice or preferring one religion over another. he also
said graduation prayers cannot be compared to a president's religious
proclamations on Thanksgiving Day. which "inhabit a pallid zone worlds apart
from official prayers delivered to a captive audience of public schools
students and their families."
that distinction seems strange to me but i don't have the full text of the
decision, yet. i called American Atheist HQ and requested a copy as soon as
they get it. they are also sending me a full copy of the landmark 1963 case
for reference. i will convert both to files and post them as multi-part msgs
pretty heady stuff considering how often we get quashed in court. [grin]
[sources: Orlando Sentinel; Section A, pgs 1&4; 25 Jun 92. Florida Today;
Section A, pg 1, 25 Jun 92.]