Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I have a short comment up at Commonweal on the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Trinity Lutheran case. A bit:
. . . All things considered, the justices in the majority had the better of the argument. It is certainly true, as Justice Sotomayor emphasized, that the separation—that is, the differentiation—between religious and political authority safeguards religious and political freedom. Yet this separation is not so strict as to require the blanket exclusion of churches from generally available and entirely secular public benefits, or to rule out cooperation between governments and religious institutions in advancing safety, education, health, and social welfare. Some observers, such as the incoming dean of Berkeley Law, Erwin Chemerinsky, complained that “the noble and essential idea of a wall separating church and state is left in disarray, if not shambles,” but this overreaction reflects a misunderstanding of the idea. Our Constitution wisely protects religious liberty by preventing official interference with strictly religious affairs. It would be unconstitutional for Missouri to pick Trinity Lutheran’s hymns or ordain its pastor, but it is well within our tradition to allow the church, like anyone else, to apply for help with playground safety. . . .