Left-leaning Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's opinion in a recent SCOTUS ruling pertaining to the separation of church and state has left many feeling nervous after it included a sobering warning about the increasingly far-right moves of the Court.
In her dissenting opinion on Carson v. Makin, which mandates government funding for religious schools, Sotomayor called the Court's decision a "perverse" and unconstitutional violation of church/state separation.
And she made clear she is deeply disturbed by the Court's rightward lurch in recent years, expressing her "growing concern about where this Court will lead us next."
\u201cThe left-leaning Supreme Court justice vehemently disagreed with the high court's rulings on the separation of church and state. https://t.co/NailasQ3C9\u201d— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1655843220
The conservative-leaning court came to a 6-3 decision on Carson v. Makin in favor of parents who sued the state of Maine to compel it to provide public education funding for religious schools in certain instances.
The state of Maine had refused to provide the funding, citing First Amendment rights. But the Court's conservative Justices argued that Maine's refusal violated parents' rights to free exercise of religion.
Calling that take on things "especially perverse," Sotomayor pointedly countered in her dissenting opinion that the Constitution expressly forbids public education from being tied to religion. She wrote:
"As this Court has long recognized, the Establishment Clause requires that public education be secular and neutral as to religion..."
"...Nothing in the Constitution requires today’s result."
Adding to the controversy is that the two specific religious schools involved in the case, Bangor Christian and Temple Academy, have implemented policies that refuse admission to LGBTQ students. Sotomayor called out this hypocrisy in her opinion, too:
"...[W]hile purporting to protect against discrimination of one kind, the Court requires Maine to fund what many of its citizens believe to be discrimination of other kinds."
Sotomayor went on to detail the domino effect of the Court's unconstitutional decision:
"Today, the Court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation.
"If a State cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any State that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this Court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens."
And referencing a similar 2017 decision, she sounded an alarm in no uncertain terms about the disturbing direction in which decisions like these steer the country.
"...In just a few years, the Court has upended constitutional doctrine, shifting from a rule that permits States to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars."
On Twitter, many were deeply disturbed by the outcome of the case and by Sotomayor's warnings about it.
\u201cJustice Sonia Sotomayor notes her \u201cgrowing concern for where this Court will lead us next.\u201d She\u2019s bit by bit getting wise to their game, and saying so.\u201d— Sheldon Whitehouse (@Sheldon Whitehouse) 1655837712
\u201c@HuffPost If they want taxpayer funding they should be paying taxes.\u201d— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1655843220
\u201c@HuffPost Separation of Church and State didn\u2019t used to be a right or left thing. It used to be a main tenant of our Country. My Presbyterian, Catholic and Puritan forefathers came here to escape oppression from forced State religions.\u201d— HuffPost (@HuffPost) 1655843220
\u201c@duty2warn A constitutional violation by the highest court in the land...\n\nThe only remedy is impeachment of all judges who can't separate church and state. \n\nWhat other answer is there? @SenSchumer\u201d— Duty To Warn \ud83d\udd09 (@Duty To Warn \ud83d\udd09) 1655898801
\u201cSotomayor accuses conservatives of \u2018dismantling\u2019 church-state separation. And she's right. Remember your vote makes a difference in who sits on SCOTUS. https://t.co/PEG9ekh7dS\u201d— Jill Wine-Banks (@Jill Wine-Banks) 1655826742
\u201c@kylegriffin1 This is most definitely NOT what the founders intended; it seems that the Supreme Court has forgotten all about the religious wars in Europe that drove so many of our first settlers to seek religious freedom in a new land.\u201d— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin) 1655823605
\u201c@kylegriffin1 One step closer to GOP\u2019s long-term goal of ending public education and privatizing ALL schools. Their ultimate goal: burden families of elementary, middle and high school students with high-interest school loans, too.\u201d— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin) 1655823605
\u201cSupreme Court decisions now are always like, "In a 6-3 decision, the Court has ruled you're allowed to kill people in the name of Christ. 'I really don't think you should be able to kill people in the name of Christ,' remarked Sotomayor in her dissent"\u201d— I draw lil comics jerk (@I draw lil comics jerk) 1655826278
\u201cAnd here's Sotomayor spelling out the implications of today's ruling: A state's effort to preserve the constitutional separation of church and state now qualifies as a violation of free exercise. The majority is repealing the establishment clause. https://t.co/saVbopQJyq\u201d— Mark Joseph Stern (@Mark Joseph Stern) 1655820767
Far-right and religious conservatives have long sought to overturn previous Supreme Court decisions that made religious teaching, Bible study and prayer in public schools unconstitutional. Conservatives frequently blame such bans for all of society's ills.
After yesterday's decision and another forthcoming in a case pertaining to a former high school football coach who was fired for praying with student athletes before games, it seems the far-right is getting ever closer to the theocracy they've been fighting for.