Scalia dismisses concept of religious neutrality in speech

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 15: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia addresses the Legal Services Corporation's 40th anniversary conference luncheon Septemeber 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also scheduled to address the LSC, which was established by the Congress in 1974 "to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans." (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says the idea of religious neutrality is not grounded in the country’s constitutional traditions and that God has been good to the U.S. exactly because Americans honor him.

Scalia was speaking Saturday at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie, Louisiana.

Scalia, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, has consistently been one of the court’s more conservative members.

He told the audience at the Catholic school that there is “no place” in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.

He also said there is “nothing wrong” with the idea of presidents and others invoking God in speeches. He said God has been good to America because Americans have honored him.

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2 comments

  • Andrew

    “…there is “no place” in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.”

    I don’t know about the rest of what he said, but this much is true. The only restriction placed on the state prohibits establishment of a state religion. It does not restrict or prohibit the state from fostering religiousness in general, or even from enacting laws which happen to coincide with particular religious beliefs. And it certainly does not restrict or prohibit the SCOTUS from taking whatever religious-based moral standards are reflected in the laws enacted by the people into consideration when making rulings. Conversely, it doesn’t restrict or prohibit the state from doing the same for agnosticism or atheism, if that is the direction the general public is leaning. What the Constitution does make clear however, is that it is the over-arching duty of the country’s leadership to REPRESENT the people and the will of those people as reflected by their votes. It is therefore no surprise that religion has played a profound and instrumental role in the legislative history of the USA, nor that it continues to do so. It is entirely appropriate for it to do so for as long as the majority of the voting public remains religious. If and when that changes, it will be entirely appropriate for the state to reflect that in their actions. But to assert that the state must remain neutral between religion and its absence is constitutionally absurd. It must do nothing of the sort, as it is mandated to actively represent the people. And the people are far from neutral.