Supreme Court's Decision on Locke v. Davey Finalized

( [email protected] ) Feb 25, 2004 06:54 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- The case of Locke v. Davey concluded with the court’s ruling in favor of the state.

The US Supreme Court today, Feb. 25, ruled 7 to 2 that “religious liberty as guaranteed under the First Amendment does not supersede efforts by state governments to uphold a different part of the First Amendment – the separation of government and religion,” sources reported.

However a federal appeals court panel ruled 2 to 1 in Davey's favor.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas argued over the decision saying that it is unconstitutional discriminatory act against religion for Washington State’s Promise Scholarship program to reject Joshua Davey from receiving the grant.

"When the state makes a public benefit generally available, that benefit becomes part of the baseline against which burdens on religion are measured," Justice Scalia said in his dissent, "When the state withholds that benefit from some individuals solely on the basis of religion, it violates the free exercise clause no less than if it had imposed a special tax."

He continued: “One need not delve too far into modern popular culture to perceive a trendy disdain for deep religious conviction. In an era when the Court is so quick to come to the aid of disfavored groups, its indifference in this case, which involves a form of discrimination to which the Constitution actually speaks, is exceptional…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?...When the public’s freedom of conscience is invoked to justify denial of equal treatment, benevolent motives shade into indifference, and ultimately into repression.”

Alliance Defense Fund, a non-profit public interest law firm that upholds Christian values, was also saddened by the ruling but the organization reported that ADF will continue to remain vigilant to ensure that this decision will not be used by the ACLU and its allies to further restrict the religious freedoms of all Americans.

ADF is currently involved with fighting against homosexual marriage.

On the other hand, some analysts are concerned over the possible slow down of the movement toward school vouchers and negative influence on the faith-based initiatives.

"This will make it extremely difficult to continue this voucher push, particularly in the 36 or so other states where strong state constitutional provisions exist barring state funding of ministry in any form," says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.