A University of Missouri law professor says the US Supreme Court gave us a glimpse into its views of separation of church and state as well as separation of powers in a ruling handed down Monday.
The court decision in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation never got to the merits of the lawsuit filed by a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics challenging the Bush Administration’s faith-based initiatives. Instead, the US Supreme Court ruled the group didn’t meet the criteria necessary to file such a suit; that it lacked "standing". The court ruled that being a federal taxpayer was not sufficient as grounds to file a lawsuit that the parties needed to prove they were truly aggrieved to file suit.
University of Missouri law professor Carl Esbeck says the court also abided by a 1968 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits such lawsuits against an initiative sponsored by the executive branch. Esbeck says an opposite ruling would have placed the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under incredible scrutiny into its day-to-day activities. He says the court decided it didn’t have jurisdiction to interfere with an executive branch initiative.
Esbeck specializes on church-state issues and actually helped craft the Bush Administration’s faith-based initiative.