Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Court Says No Standing To Challenge State Funds For Faith-Based Agency

In Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, Inc., (WD KY, March 31, 2008), a Kentucky federal district court dismissed on standing grounds a lawsuit by Kentucky state taxpayers claiming that the state violated the Establishment Clause by providing funding to Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children (KBHC). The state pays KBHC to provide services to children placed in its care as wards of the state. Plaintiffs alleged that KBHC filled staff positions in accordance with religious tenets and sought to instill Christian values and teachings in youths in its programs. In dismissing the lawsuit, the court relied on two recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. It held that Daimler Chrysler Corp. v. Cuno requires the application of federal standing doctrines to state taxpayer lawsuits, including those brought under the Establishment Clause. It then held that because KBHC receives funds through contracts with state agencies rather than through legislative action, under Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation plaintiffs lack taxpayer standing. Yesterday's Louisville Courier-Journal reports on the case which was originally filed in 2000 and included religious discrimination claims against KBHC which were subsequently dismissed by the court.