Support the Café

Search our Site

Justice Thomas: Constitution does not bar adoption of state religion

Justice Thomas: Constitution does not bar adoption of state religion

As the U.S. Supreme Court pondered the question of prayer at government meetings, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote this week that the First Amendment of the Constitution does not preclude states from establishing state religions if they choose to do so. From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

While the rest of the Supreme Court argued Monday over the constitutional limits on official prayers at town board meetings, one justice said the question may be beside the point.

In a separate opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that while the First Amendment “probably prohibits Congress from establishing a national religion,” it wasn’t intended to restrict states from adopting their own official religions. Under this view, not only could state or local officials ordain religious exercises for their meetings, they could use tax dollars to fund an official church. He cites the clause “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” saying that “choice of language…effectively denied Congress any power to regulate state establishments.”

Read full story here. (The Los Angeles Times notes that even Justice Antonin Scalia wouldn’t back Thomas on this one.)


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
tobias haller

If Thomas’ theory were correct, it would also apply to the other rights enumerated in the first amendment: speech, press, assembly, and petition.

This is strict construction and decontextualization over common sense.

Paul Woodrum

Justice Thomas needs to read on to the 1868 14th Amendment that forbids states denying rights guaranteed by the Federal Bill of Rights. It overturned the Dred Scott Decision and without it Mr. Thomas’ ancestry might have kept him from being a citizen much less a Justice of the Supreme Court. But then no law can foresee every contingency.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café