Tag Archives: us supreme court

Forsyth County Commissioners’ Prayer Lawsuit Not Heard by Supreme Court

Today the US Supreme Court declined to take up the Forsyth County commissioners' prayer case:

The U.S. Supreme court this morning rejected Forsyth County's appeal of lower court rulings against the county's policy of allowing sectarian prayers at the opening of meetings of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

According to a live blog sponsored by Bloomberg Law, the court announced this morning that it had granted no new appeals to be heard, following a conference on Friday in which the Forsyth County case was discussed.

Citizens who objected to prayers mentioning Jesus filed a federal lawsuit against Forsyth County in March 2007.

You might recall that the county's own attorney recommended against fighting the lawsuit.  You might also recall that the county threw in with the Alliance Defense Fund to fight the lawsuit and follow the appeals process all the way to the Supreme Court, and that the agreement states that ADF will only cover it's own legal costs but not those of the plaintiffs. As a result some locals put together a group called the NC Partnership for Religious Liberty and pledged to cover up to $300,000 in legal expenses if the county commissioners voted to pursue the case.  

In the end the county commissioners did vote to pursue the case and over the last couple of years the case wound its way up the food chain to the US Supreme Court.  Now that it's all said and done I'm guessing we'll need to await an accounting from the various parties to see what the legal expenses will be and to find out if the $300,000 does indeed materialize from the NC Partnership for Religious Liberty.  Of course if the legal fees exceed $300,000 then we taxpayers of Forsyth County will be on the hook for the difference.

Here's a question: what could that $300,000 have done if instead of being used to fund an ill-advised lawsuit it had been donated to a local shelter or food pantry?

More Proof That Times Have-a-Changed

Check this out: The Supreme Court is losing its only Protestant to retirement.  Of course he might be replaced by another Protestant, but I don't think that's going to be one of the criteria that the Obama administration looks at when nominating a new justice.

According to the article, of the Supremes that Justice Stevens leaves behind, six are Roman Catholic and two are Jewish.  It's hard to believe that just 50 years ago it was a HUGE deal that Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic to be elected POTUS. From the article:

It was not ever thus. Presidents once looked at two main factors in picking justices.

“Historically, religion was huge,” said Professor Epstein of Northwestern. “It was up there with geography as the key factor.”

There is, for instance, no official photograph of the justices from 1924. The court had to cancel its portrait that year because Justice James C. McReynolds, an anti-Semite and a racist, refused to sit next to Justice Louis D. Brandeis, the first Jewish justice.

The fact that William J. Brennan Jr. was Catholic seemed to figure in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s decision to nominate him to the court in the election year of 1956.

But when Justice Abe Fortas resigned in 1969 from what was considered the “Jewish seat,” President Richard M. Nixon saw no political gain from replacing him with another Jew, settling instead on Harry A. Blackmun, a Methodist.

As that progression suggests, religion, which once mattered deeply, has fallen out of the conversation. And it seems to make people uncomfortable on the rare occasions it is raised.

(h/t to Lex for the link)