Church and State Quotes (Last updated 12/30/07)

1. School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are nonadherants “that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherants that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.” The delivery of such a message-over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer-is not properly characterized as “private” speech.

-Justice Jackson, US Supreme Court

2. The legitimacy of secular legislation depends on whether the State can advance some justification for its law beyond its conformity to religious doctrine. A State can no more punish private behavior because of religious intolerance than it can punish such behavior because of racial animus. The Constitution cannot control such prejudices, but neither can it tolerate them. Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect. No matter how uncomfortable a certain group may make the majority of this Court, we have held that mere public intolerance or animosity cannot constitutionally justify the deprivation of a person’s physical liberty

(Bowers v Hardwick, dissenting opinion).

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