Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief today and asked the Supreme Court to overturn the so-called “Lemon” test in its decision on Felix v. Bloomfield.
“Since 1971, the Lemon test has allowed mere offended observers to overturn years of religious tradition,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. In the case currently before the Supreme Court, two Wiccans were offended over a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Bloomfield, New Mexico, municipal building.
“The Lemon test has meant that the Establishment Clause, designed to prevent federal establishments of religion, has morphed into a weapon aimed at eliminating all vestiges of public religious expression,” Staver added. “It is past time to abandon that judge-made rule and return to the actual words and intent of the First Amendment,” concluded Staver.
Federal lawsuits require that the complainant have standing, which means they must demonstrate that they have been injured by an act of government. Over the years, the Supreme Court has loosened the standing requirement for Establishment Clause claims, allowing people to file suit merely because they are offended. In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Court ruled that religious activity must be diluted with secular influences.
“The Supreme Court has not consistently utilized, but in fact has frequently criticized, the Lemon test,” Liberty Counsel pointed out in its amicus brief. In Van Orden v. Perry, the Supreme Court refused to use the Lemon test when ruling on a granite Decalogue monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. In that case the Court said that the Lemon test was “not useful in dealing with the sort of passive monument…Instead, our analysis is driven both by the nature of the monument and by our Nation’s history.”
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