Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stare, stare night
The sun sets on stare decisis

Your blogstress hopes those good Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted for the nomination ofJohn Roberts to the post of chief justice of the Supreme Court are pleased with themselves in light of the First Amendment decisions handed down by the Supreme Court yesterday – decisions that bear the hallmarks of the new chief that Sens. Feingold, Kohl and Leahy so graciously endorsed.

If you were dismayed by yesterday’s outcome in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case or perplexed by the conclusion the court arrived at yesterday in the campaign finance case, your Webwench asks you to consider the court’s decision in the in the case regarding taxpayer standing in church/state separation, which either throws out 30 years of law once believed to be settled, or confers on the executive branch the right to spend your tax dollars on pretty much anything it damn well pleases.

Most coverage has focused on the Court’s apparent upset of the precedent that once was Flast v. Cohen, the 1969 case that established the right of ordinary taxpayers – simply because we pay taxes to the federal government – to be heard in legitimate cases concerning the separation of church and state. This right is not a given; in virtually no other area of law are taxpayers granted standing in cases against the government simply because their money is in use via taxes.

However, what concerns your cybertrix even more than that was the mealy-mouthed decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, in which, instead of being bold enough to overturn Flast, Alito declares expenditures by the executive branch to be exempt from the provisions of the First Amendment. So, while Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” the executive branch is free to spend non-earmarked money from the Treasury to promote the interests of religious organizations. Which gives an already imperial presidency the power of its own damn purse. I’m not sure this is what Madison had in mind.

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