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Supreme Court Justice says it’s past time to resolve “separation of church and state”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas says confusion and contradiction surround recent lower court rulings concerning the “Establishment Clause.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Within the First Amendment of the he U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, there is a phrase that Congress shall make no law establishing a state religion. While enormous attention is paid to that clause, the courts seem to ignore the phrase immediately following it that prohibits Congress from denying the free exercise of religion.


Recently the Supreme Court had an opportunity to end the confusion and contradictions coming from appeals courts, but decided not to do so, says Thomas.

“Today the Court rejects an opportunity to provide clarity to Establishment Clause jurisprudence in shambles,” Thomas wrote in his dissent to the Court’s refusal to hear a case regarding roadside crosses. “A sharply divided Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has declared unconstitutional a private association’s efforts to memorialize slain police officers with white roadside crosses, holding that the crosses convey to a reasonable observer that the State of Utah is endorsing Christianity.”

“Justice Thomas pointed out what many should already know,” writes P.A. Madison in the Federalist Blog. “The court’s refusal to hear the case brings to an end a lawsuit that has been contested since 2005, leaving Establishment Clause jurisprudence muddy as ever.”


Madison continues:

Thomas says the Court it “should be deeply troubled by what its Establishment Clause jurisprudence has wrought.”

It should be apparent why such things as religious symbols, ministerial exceptions, and legislature or school prayers have nothing remotely in common with the Establishment Clause and why the words “Congress shall make no law” precede it. The only question in any Establishment case is whether Congress has established a church by law.

Justice Thomas is also correct to point out the “Establishment Clause restrains only the Federal Government” because the words “Congress shall make no law” were never redacted through the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, nothing in the Fourteenth Amendments text empowers the court to assume otherwise.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment B.W.

    Justice Thomas is right. Reading the First Ammendment as it should be read, in its plain and unambiguous language, so long as the Federal Government through Congress does not create a national church or stop people from worshipping God then then any concern regarding the federal government in this matter is over.

    To the ordinary man on the street who reads the establishment clause, let alone the legally trained mind, its obvious. The First Ammendment is all about allowing people the freedom to exercise religion, not extinguish it from the public domain. After all the very term “establishment” as it relates to the establishment clause is all about the establihsment of a religious faith or denomination and cleary the First Ammendment is all about stopping Congress from doing so or from preventing religious worship, nothing more. This clause was never meant to ban crosses on the side of public road ways or public sector employees from wearing religious jewelry at work.

    Finally, someone in obider or some legal text should step up and tell the public that “separation of church and state” is NOT a legal principle and does NOT apprear in any part of the constitution. Rather it is a phrase penned by Thomas Jefferson to a group of baptists in Virginia stating the rationale for America NOT having a national church as does England or Greece!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary Singleton

    Finally, someone who points out that the courts are reading the amendments using only the words they choose to see. Please people, remember that “We the People” also includes THE PEOPLE and not only the chosen words of a few. This country was once the greatest country in the world, BEFORE it was decided to remove God from it. Look at the changes in the people, the schools and the economy. We are no longer free people of the United States, we are slaves of a downturning establishment that bans religious beliefs, or should I say that bans JUST CHRISTIAN BELIEFS? All others are excepted. This is NOT FREEDOM OF RELIGION! America (as much as I hate to say this) is on it’s way to becoming a “Third World” in status. Please be aware and make the necessary changes, put God back in our world and our lives.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Harold Davis

    I am glad someone in authority, especially a Supreme Court Justice has common sense to finally beieve it is time to resolve the issue of separation of church an state. This country was great when God was given credit for making it great, but we will never be great again if God is not the center of our affection. What we need are more Justices that agree with Justice Thomas, and the only way for that to happen is to elect a new President.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment desert lady

    This would be a disaster. Whose symbols and whose prayers would be allowed? You allow all or none! The Government has no business being involved in religion.

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