Monday’s rulings by the Supreme Court were good news for conservatives on most fronts and I wanted to post a round-up of reactions to some of the key cases. First, here’s the WSJ report:
The Supreme Court punched a hole in McCain-Feingold yesterday, but it missed a chance to revisit its misguided 2003 decision upholding McCain-Feingold’s overall restrictions on political speech. Justice Antonin Scalia summed up the matter succinctly in calling Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion for the majority “judicial obfuscation” in the name of “faux judicial restraint.”
Whether fake or not, the High Court also tread lightly in two other First Amendment decisions yesterday. In Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation (pdf), the Court rejected, by a 5-4 vote, a suit against the President’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. But it declined to overturn an earlier decision on taxpayer standing, as urged by some of the Justices.
And in Morse v. Frederick (pdf), the Court upheld a school district’s right to restrict speech that seemed to advocate the use of illegal drugs, and so upheld, by a 6-3 vote, earlier decisions that granted schools latitude in controlling student speech. All three cases stayed true to the Roberts Court’s inclination toward incrementalism.
By far the most important case was Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (pdf), which goes back to the summer of 2004. Wisconsin Right to Life had generated TV and radio ads about judicial filibusters, but because the ads mentioned Senator Russ Feingold by name, it sought a legal ruling to protect itself from criminal liability under McCain-Feingold if it ran the ads. Yesterday, nearly three years, two trips to the Supreme Court and two elections later, it got its wish.
Here is what Liberty Counsel had to say about Hein … :
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against the director of the program, Jay Hein, claiming that federal tax dollars supporting religion was a violation of the Establishment Clause. The trial court held that FFRF lacked standing to sue, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision reversed the order. The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and ruled against FFRF, which will stop the suit from going forward.
FFRF argued that taxpayers who objected to federal funding of the faith-based programs should be allowed to sue to block such funding. Today’s ruling rejecting this claim creates a precedent that the mere status of being a taxpayer does not provide grounds to object to the federal government’s spending based on an alleged violation of the Establishment Clause. Had the Court ruled the other way and allowed broad taxpayer standing to challenge the disbursement of federal funds, the floodgates of litigation would be open for any taxpayer to sue the federal government by claiming any number of federal disbursements caused them to be offended.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The Freedom From Religion Foundation would like nothing more than to wield a wrecking ball across the land to demolish religious expression. The ruling by the Supreme Court is a significant setback to this organization’s wrecking ball agenda.”
… and Morse:
The school argued that the event was school-sponsored since the students were released from class to attend the event. Liberty Counsel does not endorse the student’s message, but filed an amicus brief urging the Court to exercise caution so that this case would not negatively impact students’ right to freedom of speech while at off-campus events. The Court did exercise caution and limited its ruling to cases where students promote pro-drug messages at school-sponsored events, stating that this case involved very special characteristics not present in other student free speech circumstances.
Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, who was at the Court today, commented: “Although public school officials may limit pro-drug speech at a school-sponsored event, they still do not have the authority to punish private student speech that occurs outside of a school-sponsored event. While this ruling permits school officials to ban pro-drug messages at school-sponsored events, students retain their constitutional rights to speak on religious, political or moral issues while on campus during non-instructional times.”
Here’s FRC’s praise for FEC:
In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Court ruled that public policy non-profits do not violate campaign finance laws when they run issue-oriented ads that mention an office-holder close to an election. A ruling the other way would have been a serious blow to freedom of speech, and to the ability of groups like FRC and FRC Action to mobilize public opinion in support of important policies. For now, at least, non-profits will have much wider freedom to talk about issues and legislators than BCRA, sometimes dubbed an “incumbent protection act,” allowed them.
Of course, this post would not be complete without a little humor. Here is AU’s whining about the Hein decision calling it “blocking the court” for Americans with “legitimate church-state grievances.” Barry Lynn’s clouded understanding of the First Amendment is patently laughable.
“This is a disappointing decision that blocks the courthouse door for Americans with legitimate church-state grievances,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Taxpayers should be allowed to challenge public funding of religion, whether the money is allocated by Congress or the White House.”
“However,” Lynn continued, “it is important to note that this ruling applies to only a few situations. Most church-state lawsuits, including those that challenge congressional appropriations for faith-based programs, will not be affected.”
Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that taxpayers should have access to the courts to challenge government expenditures on religion. An array of Religious Right organizations sided with the Bush administration.
It’s no secret as to why the Religious Right sides with the Bush administration. Here, he is protecting religion as it was intended. For reasons that escape levels of common sense, the Religious Left, in this case, is anti-religion. Against itself.
Whether or not Lynn is right about most church-state lawsuits not being affected is beside the point. This ruling curbs the efforts of radical leftists that seek to eradicate God from government and replace Him with the religion of humanism. And so-called “Christians” on the Religious left are helping to boot their own God. Another reason that liberalism is completely illogical.