Monday, June 25, 2007

Three S.C.O.T.U.S. Favorable Rulings!

Citizenlink nicely summarizes the three favorable decisions for religious freedom that were handed down today. Brief excerpts:

1. Freedom from Religion vs. Freedom of Religion

The court ruled the group Freedom from Religion Foundation did not have standing to challenge the use of taxpayer dollars to advertise and promote President Bush's faith-based initiative.

2. Rights of the People vs. Campaign-Finance Reform

In Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the high court ruled a section of the campaign-finance law unconstitutional.

The pro-life group challenged the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 -- which prevents special-interest groups from running ads that mention a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

Hausknecht said the court ruled it a violation of the First Amendment to prohibit issue ads that do not rise to the "functional equivalent" of express campaign speech.

"It's a solid victory for core political speech," he said, "which is the heart of what the First Amendment's free speech clause was intended to protect."

3. Students' Rights vs. Educators' Duty

In the controversial free-speech case out of Juneau, Alaska – Morse v. Frederick -- the Supreme Court handed down a narrow ruling that said school officials can quash drug-related speech at school functions, but refused to extend that authority to other forms of controversial speech, including religious expression.

Five years ago, students at Juneau-Douglas High School were let out of school to watch torch bearers for the 2002 Olympics. Joe Frederick raised a sign reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." According to news reports, he wasn't trying to make a statement so much as raise a ruckus.

Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute, said while the court ruled in favor of Morse, the carefully written decision protects the free speech rights of students.

"The school district asked for a breathtaking new power to ban all student speech it did not feel furthered the school's 'educational mission,' " Shackelford said in a statement. "That request was rejected."

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