The U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower court decision ordering the removal of 13 roadside crosses in Utah. Justice Clarence Thomas issued a rare dissenting opinion on the Court’s Monday decision to not hear two cases involving memorials for fallen state police officers.
For Thomas–and several Christian legal organizations–the case was a missed opportunity for the court to clarify the standards for judging public display of religious symbols.
The Supreme Court denied the case without comment. With thousands of appeals to consider, the Court rarely offers an opinion or explain its reasoning when it denies a case. A justice offers a dissent in a denial in only a handful of cases.
Thomas said the Court should have taken up the case to help clear up the standards for judging whether a public or governmental display religious symbol is constitutional. Lower courts use different standards. In 2005, the Court ruled on two cases involving the display of the Ten Commandments. On the same day, the Court decided that one display in Texas was constitutional; another display in Kentucky was declared unconstitutional. Thomas noted the various standards used by lower courts due to the lack of a clear guidance from the high Court.
“Today the Court rejects an opportunity to provide clarity to an Establishment Clause jurisprudence in shambles,” Thomas wrote.
In previous court cases, Thomas has advocated the position that the First Amendment’s ban on the establishment of religion applies to the federal government only. State and local governments are not restricted in the same way, according to Thomas.
Source: Christianity Today | Tobin Grant