Constitutional Law II
Separationists claim that the state may fund secular beliefs but not religious beliefs.
Separationism used to be the most popular view.
Non-preferentialists believe that the state may fund religious and secular beliefs equally.
Non-preferentialism has generally prevailed in the Supreme Court.
Jurisdictionalists hold that the state may not fund any beliefs—and that the distinction between secular and religious beliefs is a false one.
Jurisdictionalism is the best.
The government cannot pay salaries at religious schools, but it may donate secular materials. (Supposedly because it trusts Christian schools to not use donated computers for religious purposes)
Services like tutoring and disability aid can be given to religious school students at their schools.
Aid like tuition vouchers can be given to the parents of students at religious schools.
Children can be released from school for religious activities as long as the activity is off-campus.
Having religious elements such as creationism or the Ten Commandments in the school's curriculum will basically always be struck down as a violation of the first prong of the Lemon test—having a secular purpose.
Legislative prayer is usually allowed under the history and tradition test as long as it is not used to proselytize or degrade others or something.
For nativity scenes (crèches), the Court applies Lemon and the endorsement test.
Private religious speech is allowed in public forums (Like at school after hours and in parks). In fact, the government cannot discriminate against religion in allowing or disallowing someone to use a public forum for his speech.
For a statute to be valid under the Lemon test:
- The statute must have a secular legislative purpose.
- There is some dispute about whether it must be a primarily secular purpose or just a secular purpose.
- Its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.
- The statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion."
- Sometimes this is merged with the second prong.
- Is the city's actual purpose to endorse or disapprove religion?
- The subjective intent of the speaker
- Does the practice in fact convey a message of endorsement or disapproval of religion?
- The objective meaning
Vague ceremonial deism is okay.
Conservatives justify this by saying that if the founders did it, then obviously they did not intend to prohibit it in the Constitution; liberals justify this by saying that such practices are just historical in nature now and that they have lost their religious meanings.
The coercion test prohibits government practices that coerce religious belief/nonbelief or practice/nonpractice.
Coercion includes psycho-coercion, where only peer pressure causes people to do or not do something.
The non-preferentialists believe that there must be some sort of civil or criminal sanction imposed for something to truly be coercive.
The jurisdicitonalists believe that coercion is effected when someone is taxed to propagate opinions and beliefs that they do not agree with.