American Atheist: High Court Ruling on Faith-Based Initiative Avoided First Amendment Issue
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 25, 2007
CONTACT: American Atheist
Ellen Johnson, President (908) 276-7300
Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director at 859-384-7000
High Court Ruling on Faith-Based Initiative Avoided First Amendment
"Not The End In Dispute Over Public Funding of Religion," Say
WASHINGTON - JUNE 25 -The 5-4 ruling in the case of Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation
"is not the end in the dispute over the public funding of religion,"
American Atheists President Ellen Johnson said today.
"This decision was very focused on the issue of whether taxpayers have
sufficient legal right or 'standing' to bring a case against the
Executive Branch, and really did not address broader constitutional
questions regarding the federal faith-based initiative."
The suit focused on President Bush's creation of a faith-based scheme
using powers of executive privilege that has re-directed billions of
dollars in federal funds for use by religious organizations that operate
social programs. Five justices opined that taxpayers did not have
appropriate legal standing to challenge the executive branch, but could
contest spending programs approved directly by Congress. Four of the
justices, though (Souter, Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer) stated that
taxpayers did have the necessary standing.
Johnson added that the written majority opinions by Justices Scalia and
Alito make it more difficult for citizens, particularly those holding
unorthodox opinions in respect to religion, to have their grievances
"The court majority is more focused on expanding the powers of the
Executive Branch than in dealing with the constitutionality of whether
government should be providing tax money to support religious
organizations," said Dave Silverman, Communications Director for
American Atheists. "On the other hand, the minority in this case,
particuarly Justice Souter, was right in citing James Madison's caution
that "government in a free society may not 'force a citizen to
contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one
establishment' of religion."
"This is not going to be the end for this sort of legal dispute" added
Silverman. 'Millions of Americans, including those who are Atheists,
Freethinkers and Humanists, won't stand idly by as our money is
laundered through the public treasury and used to support religion-bases
MEDIA: For inquiries and further commentary, contact:
EDWIN KAGIN: National Legal Director, American Atheists: (859) 384-7000
DAVE SILVERMAN, Communications Director, American Atheists: (732) 648-9333
AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for
Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and
addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.
American Atheists, Inc.
P. O. Box 5733
Parsippany, NJ 07054-6733
Tel.: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402