Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Felony Enhancement For Church Burglary Does Not Violate Establishment Clause

In Burke v. State of Indiana, (IN App., Feb. 21, 2011), the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of a provision that enhances burglary to a Class B felony if the building involved was one that is used for religious worship.  The court rejected a federal Establishment Clause challenge, finding that the statute has secular purposes-- churches traditionally have less security measures, society finds such crimes more repulsive and these offenders take more time to rehabilitate. The court also found no excessive entanglement. Finally it rejected a state constitutional challenge, finding the law does not materially burden the right to be free from a preference for a particular religion or religion in general, protected by Art. I, Sec. 4 of the Indiana Constitution.