Friday, February 27, 2004


Supreme Court says states can withhold scholarships from students studying theology

Chief Justice Rehnquist says in his Locke v. Davey opinion:
"The State of Washington established the Promise Scholarship Program to assist academically gifted students with postsecondary education expenses. In accordance with the State Constitution, students may not use the scholarship at an institution where they are pursuing a degree in devotional theology. We hold that such an exclusion from an otherwise inclusive aid program does not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment."

Justice Scalia says in his dissent:
"Today's holding is limited to training the clergy, but its logic is readily extendible, and there are plenty of directions to go. What next? Will we deny priests and nuns their prescription-drug benefits on the ground that taxpayers' freedom of conscience forbids medicating the clergy at public expense?

"This may seem fanciful, but recall that France has proposed banning religious attire from schools, invoking interests in secularism no less benign than those the court embraces today."


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