Friday, March 28, 2014

Judge Calabresi Interviewed On Establishment Clause

Religion & Politics yesterday published an interview with Guido Calabresi, senior judge on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and former dean of Yale Law School, on his views of the Establishment Clause. Judge Calabresi authored the 2nd Circuit's opinion in Galloway v. Town of Greece, the legislative prayer case (see prior posting) that was argued this term and is awaiting decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Describing the 2nd Circuit's opinion, Calabresi said:
We took the position that a non-sectarian prayer is either a contradiction in terms or is an establishment. It is an establishment of the “okay” religions. Of “what we are all agreed on.” What we wanted to do was to find a way of allowing people to pray without having a town define itself as Christian—which was the claim about this case. But, keep in mind that, in our circuit, we also have Kiryas Joel, a town that wants to define itself as Satmar, a particular sect of the Jewish faith. In other words, we have many forms of the desire for self-definition, of the desire to say, in religious terms, “We are something.” What we came up with was the notion that a town can do anything it wants so long as it is open to every religion and non-religion.