When our Nation’s Founding Fathers wrote the Establishment Clause into the Bill of Rights, they envisioned it as a protective device – a means of safeguarding citizens from a federally-mandated religion. In just over two hundred years, it has instead become a weapon often wielded by government bureaucrats to stamp out any vestige of religion from our public life. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito even warned that religious liberty is “fast becoming a disfavored right.”
In the game of football, a Hail Mary pass is a desperate, last-ditch attempt to salvage a win by throwing a long pass downfield in hopes it will be caught for a touchdown. It rarely succeeds.
In early May, an unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion set off roiling left-wing protests when it indicated the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion might be reversed.
In the early days of the litigation against the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, courts were understandably hesitant to second-guess military judgments about mission accomplishment and readiness. But recent developments indicating that not all military commanders agree with punishing and discharging service members with sincere religious objections to the vaccine mandate might stretch the limits of judicial deference to military judgments.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 25 in the case of Joe Kennedy, a Marine veteran-turned-football coach who made a commitment to God to kneel in prayer on the field after football games and was removed from his job as a result.
It’s a bedrock principle of our constitutional democracy that the government may not compel citizens to speak messages that violate their convictions.
This principle applies with full force in our public schools, colleges and universities. As the Supreme Court famously put it 79 years ago when rejecting the compulsory Pledge of Allegiance, public institutions may not “prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”
What a difference a day makes. Within twenty-four hours, the United States Supreme Court demonstrated the lengths to which it will go to protect a death row inmate’s religious freedom while declining to protect religious freedom for 35 members of the Naval Special Warfare community.