Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Women!

The Supreme Court convened on Monday and passed on hearing two court cases brought by conservative religious groups.

From the AP story:

The Supreme Court refused today to expand the rights of church groups, turning down appeals in a pair of cases.In the first, the justices rejected a free-speech claim from an evangelical minister from Northern California who wanted to hold worship services in the meeting room of a public library.

In the second, the court rejected a freedom-of-religion claim from Catholic Charities in New York, which objected to a state law that requires them to pay for contraceptives for their employees as part of their prescription drug coverage. New York, California and more than 20 other states have adopted laws that require employers to include birth control pills in their drug coverage. Though churches are exempted from these laws, the exemption does not extend to church-related groups.

To this religious leader, the Supreme Court has correctly drawn the line between the separation of church and state. Women who work for church related institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, should not be denied insurance coverage for family planning services, and clearly worship does not belong in a public library. And after last year's decision on late term abortions, it's good to know that at least for this year, there isn't an opportunity for the Court to curtail women's rights.


Anonymous said...

Our public library allows the local Hindu association to meet. And also the Catholic Nursing Mothers League (which begins and ends with a prayer). In fact these two organizations meet back to back at our public library, and everyone seems to enjoy seeing each other. I guess I don't see why public space shouldn't make room for all public uses. I wouldn't object (and don't) to the use by other religions of public spaces. And many religious organizations also allow their spaces to be used for secular purposes. Why should separation of church and state necessarily mean absolutely no contact? The UU can't rent out a meeting room to the Democratic party? How does that really help anyone? If this had been a Jewish, pagan or other non-Christian group that was denied the right to use public space would it nevertheless be a laudable decision?

Our public library allows broad use of its facilities and simply publicly disclaims any affiliation or endorsement of the views of any users. All meetings must be open to the public and space is given without censorship on a first-come, first-served basis.

I think that is consistent with "Congress shall make no law" respecting the establishment of a religion. Allowing taxpayers to use tax-funded property seems fair. And I'm a non-evangelical Democrat who thinks so.

Earthbound Spirit said...

I'm wondering why worship "obviously" doesn't belong in the meeting room of a public library, too. That's what the space is for - for community groups to utilize, whether it's the local AA or SOS group, the La Leche League, or a Bible study group. It's fairly common practice in my area for churches which don't have their own space to rent space from public schools. So do the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and numerous other community organizations.

Note - these groups who use school facilities pay rent, which often means paying overtime for the school janitorial staff as well. As long as a church rents and pays for space on the same basis as any other community group would, I don't see an obvious problem.