Friday, November 06, 2015

Senator Hatch Criticizes Supreme Court's Establishment Clause Jurisprudence

In September, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) delivered the first in a planned series of 8 speeches on the Senate floor addressing Religious Liberty.  This past Wednesday, Hatch delivered the fourth speech in that series, this one on Faith and Public Life.  The full transcript was included in a press release from Hatch's office. The speech broadly attacks the notion that the Establishment Clause creates a wall of separation between church and state. He said in part:
[T]he ratification debates clarify that the ratifiers viewed official establishment of a particular church as direct financial support for a preferred sect, wholly distinct from the non-discriminatory support and encouragement of religion in general, which the Establishment Clause was not thought to limit....  For a century and a half, this understanding of the Establishment Clause endured with little challenge....
Unfortunately, religion was not spared from the destructive judicial activism of a Supreme Court that spun wildly out of control in the mid-twentieth century. A new crop of justices, disinclined to follow the traditional judicial role of applying the law as written, instead sought to remake the law according to their left-wing worldview. From inventing new rights for criminals to mandating nearly unlimited access to abortion on demand, the Court in this period left few stones unturned in its radical rewriting of the Constitution. The longstanding understanding of the Establishment Clause was one of the mid-century Court’s first victims. Abandoning the understanding of the Clause I have previously detailed—an understanding that was clearly supported by text, structure, history, and precedent—the Court turned the Establishment Clause on its head.
Wall of Separation blog criticizes Hatch's remarks.  Video of the three prior speeches in the series by Hatch are available on YouTube: Basic Principles (Sept. 22); Religious Liberty in the U.S. (Oct. 1); Status of Religious Freedom (Oct. 8).