Tucson Atheists Message Board › God the Commandments and Justice Scalia
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In the primaries and on the side-lines of the last election, we heard lots of advocating that various religious beliefs should become part of our laws, or already are (on gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research...on and on). It will all surely return later. This is to remind us non-believers that in 2005, that view very nearly became a U.S. Supreme Court majority decision.
Had he obtained the votes of two more Justices, or just one more if all the dissenters had united, we would be living under the terms of Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion on the meaning of the Establishment of Religion clause in First Amendment of the Constitution. The clause says:
""Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;.."
Previouly, the Establishment clause was (and is now) interperted to mean that the Government must be neutral between religions and between religion and non-religion. In that view, non-believers like us are included. But non-belief is excluded along with all other kinds of religious or diests beliefs according to Justice Scalia's dissent in the Kentucky Court House Commandments display case. Since I am no lawyer, any summary I might make would be suspect. So to give you an idea of what the opinion entailed, I'll quote this summary by a law professor:
"According to Justice Scalia’s dissent, Ten Commandments monuments are constitutional because the Establishment Clause permits the government to favor religion over nonreligion (but not vice versa), and, in the context of governmental religious expression, to favor Judeo-Christian monotheism over all other religions (but not vice versa)... In... Justice Scalia’s opinion, biblical monotheism is now, has always been, and will always be, the favored religion of the United States Constitution." "....The Establishment Clause affords greater protection to the believers of some religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) than others (Hinduism, Buddhism, no religion, everything else)."
If you prefer, read the full review by downloading the free PDF here:
But for a real walk on the scary wild side, do a quick browse through the actual dissenting opinion itself. I copied it from the full opinion and made a PDF that can be obtained here:
Edited by Jeff Gonor on Jan 11, 2013 3:08 PM