Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Justice Breyer draws a map

SCOTUSblog has a good summary of yesterday's tortured, hair-splitting decisions about when displaying the Big Ten is and is not appropriate by the guvmint.

If government officials are careful not to say publicly that the reason they are displaying the Ten Commandments is to promote religion, and not to say publicly that they are commemorating Jesus as “the Prince of Ethics,” and if they put up this sacred text amid a “display on law or history,” they probably can satisfy the two new decisions.
Breyer’s separate – and decisive – opinion in the Texas statehouse grounds case uses a somewhat different, though not contradictory, approach than the one Souter employed. What seemed to make the most difference to Breyer was that the Commandments monument had stood “apparently uncontested for nearly two generations. That experience helps us understand that as a practical matter of degree this display is unlikely to prove divisive. And this matter of degree is, I believe, critical in a borderline case such as this one.”
While others on the Court are certainly guilty of more bizarre and tortured logic in the past, few can lay claim to reasoning as weak-ass as Breyer's. The upshot of this is that anyone and everyone can have their very own Ten Commandments outside a government building, if it's properly camo'd by other displays or presented as a history lesson rather than plain-vanilla evangelism.

The only folks who will get shot down by this set of rulings are the self-aggrandizing zealots who will be more than happy to settle for the publicity their failed efforts will garner. Scores lotsa points toward sainthood in the long run, and, in the short run, towards a governorship.


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