Supreme‌ ‌Court‌ ‌Set‌ ‌to‌ ‌Tackle‌ ‌DACA,‌ ‌LGBT‌ ‌Discrimination,‌ ‌Among‌ ‌Other‌ ‌Issues‌ ‌This‌ Term‌
ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE AND RELIGION

October 1, 2019 by Dan McCue
Supreme‌ ‌Court‌ ‌Set‌ ‌to‌ ‌Tackle‌ ‌DACA,‌ ‌LGBT‌ ‌Discrimination,‌ ‌Among‌ ‌Other‌ ‌Issues‌ ‌This‌ Term‌
The U.S. Supreme Court building, June 2019. (Photo by Dan McCue)

This year’s term begins Monday, Oct. 7, and will extend into late June, encompassing the presidential primaries and ending just before the Republicans and Democrats host their presidential nominating conventions.

As always, one can expect the Justices’ statements from the bench during hearings, the court’s rulings, and the makeup of the majorities in those rulings, to invite intense scrutiny.

Among the high-profile issues they’ll tackle early in the term are the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and whether Title VII employment discrimination protections extend to members of the LGBT community.


You can read previews of the other cases here:


ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE AND RELIGION

The justices will also take up the question of whether Montana violated the religion clauses or the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution when it invalidated a generally available and religiously neutral student-aid program simply because the program afforded students the choice of attending religious schools.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue is one of those cases that makes me very much wish Sandra O’Connor were still on the court,” Walter Dellinger said.

“I remember when I was clerking for Justice Black, he would often write in his notes on a case, “follow White,” meaning Justice Byron White, in a particular area of the law, or “follow Harlan,”  meaning Justice John Harlan, in another area. And when I come across a case like this, my mind immediately goes to the words ‘Follow O’Connor,'” Dellinger said. “She voted with the conservative justices when it came to upholding the permissibility of including religious groups in broad-based public programs.”

The former acting Solicitor General said O’Connor based her belief in this regard on a “very simple but powerful insight.”

“Her position was, ‘private prayer, good; government prayer, bad,’” Dellinger said. “So she was receptive to upholding the right of religious groups to participate in public funded programs, but not of governments imposing religion, by having prayers at council meetings or erecting statues depicting the 10 Commandments.”

“Justice O’Connor was someone who thought government had no business sponsoring prayers. For her the key to these kinds of cases was ‘intervening private choice.’ That was the circuit breaker,” he continued.

Espinoza stems from the Montana state legislature’s 2015 decision to create the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which allows Montanans a tax credit for $150 of their contributions to a privately-run scholarship program.

However, the Montana Department of Revenue refused to implement the program, citing the state’s Blaine Amendment, an archaic anti-religious law that forbids tax credits going to schools owned or operated by a “church, sect, or denomination.”

Eventually, the Montana Supreme Court struck part of the program down finding it violated the state constitution.

“Basically, they said, ‘this money can’t go to religious schools, based on a conflict with the state constitution,’ and the state immediately shut the program down,” Paul Clement said.

“Now, you can reasonably argue that the Montana Supreme Court decision wasn’t discriminatory because it was based on the wording of the state constitution, but it nevertheless denied parents the ability to send their children to the school of their choice.

“As a matter of federal constitutional law, I think the state’s interest here is pretty attenuated,” he continued. “But there’s nothing attenuated about the effect on the parent. In the end, a parent wants to send their child to a school that they think is going to provide a better educational opportunity for them. They could choose a religious school, for wholly non-religious reasons. But now they’ve been told, ‘No, you can’t do that.'”

“That’s the challenge in this case: The state’s interest seems pretty attenuated and the parents’ interest seems pretty direct,” Clement said.


You can read previews of the other cases here:

A+
a-
  • American Constitution Society
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Civil Rights

    June 11, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Federal Judge Tosses Florida Ban on Gender-Affirming Care

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some... Read More

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida law banning gender-affirming health care for transgender minors and restricting access to care for some transgender adults is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. The law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May of last year, barred doctors... Read More

    The Rev. James Lawson Jr., Civil Rights Leader Who Preached Nonviolent Protest, Dies at 95

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Rev. James Lawson Jr., an apostle of nonviolent protest who schooled activists to withstand brutal... Read More

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Rev. James Lawson Jr., an apostle of nonviolent protest who schooled activists to withstand brutal reactions from white authorities as the Civil Rights Movement gained traction, has died, his family said Monday. He was 95. His family said Lawson died on... Read More

    A New Account Rekindles Allegations Trump Disrespected Black People on 'The Apprentice'

    Gene Folkes had just been jettisoned as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and was commiserating with a crew member at a bar... Read More

    Gene Folkes had just been jettisoned as a contestant on “The Apprentice” and was commiserating with a crew member at a bar inside the lobby of Trump Tower. He was indignant — and not just at having been kicked off the reality show after its star, Donald Trump, had... Read More

    May 31, 2024
    by Tom Ramstack
    DC Police Prepare for Terrorism During Pride Month in June

    WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police are preparing for a potential terrorist attack in June during Pride Month after an... Read More

    WASHINGTON — District of Columbia police are preparing for a potential terrorist attack in June during Pride Month after an FBI warning last week. “Foreign terrorist organizations or supporters may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month,” a joint FBI... Read More

    May 22, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Senators Say State Abortion Ban Causing Exodus of Women’s Health Care Providers

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report... Read More

    WASHINGTON — A trio of Democratic senators assailed abortion bans in Republican-led states on Tuesday, pointing to a new report that suggests those laws are forcing women’s health care providers to turn away patients, shut down practices and abandon those states altogether for fear of prosecution... Read More

    70 Years Ago, School Integration was a Dream Many Believed Could Actually Happen. It Hasn't.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seventy years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools by race was... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Seventy years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools by race was unconstitutional. On paper, that decision — the fabled Brown v. Board of Education, taught in most every American classroom — still stands. But for decades, American schools... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top