George Goldberg; Reconstructing America; Wm. B. Eedernabs; Grand Rapids, MI.
Many years ago Leo Strauss remarked that the Supreme Court is more likely to defer to the contentions of social science than to the Ten Commandments as the words of the living God. Strauss was, of course, basing his observation on the use of social science in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, but he did not live to see the other shoe drop; in 1980 the high court ruled that a Kentucky statute requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school rooms violated the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment. The Kentucky case illustrates the current state of judicial wisdom on the subject of “separation of church and state.” The relevant clause of theFirst Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Well, Congress made no law; the Kentucky legislature did. But the modern Supreme Court, in a fit of judicial irredentism, has applied the”establishment” clause to state actions as well by way of the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause. Goldberg, a Jewish lawyer, outlines the history of the Court’s debauchery of the First Amendment’s intention: from the first church-state cases at the beginning of this century right through the 1984 Pawtucket crèche case.
Goldberg cannot contain outbursts of just indignation at the Court’s tendentious reasoning on religion cases. It has come to this: a public school teacher would probably lose his job for leading a prayer in the classroom, while a teacher who showed a pornographic movie would be successfully defended by the ACLU(Anti-Christian Litigation Unit?) on First Amendment “free expression” grounds.
And what about the “free exercise” clause of the Amendment’s religion clause? In the current judicial interpretation, the “establishment” clause eats up the “free exercise” clause, such that even a “moment of silence” in public schools is proscribed, as well as voluntary religious meetings on school grounds during off hours. Surely this flies in the face of the intention of the Framers of the First Amendment, who, recognizing the salutary effects of religious sentiment on the public order, sought to encourage the proliferation and vigor of religious life. Reading Goldberg, you get the feeling that what is most needed is a–moment of silence for the Supreme Court. cc