One of the cases listed as on for tomorrow’s cert. petition conference is Mt. Soledad Memorial Ass’n v. Trunk, which asks the Court to overturn a Ninth Circuit decision holding that display of a large cross as part of a war memorial violates the Establishment Clause. See Trunk v. City of San Diego, 629 F.3d 1099 (9th Cir. 2011). The opinion by Judge McKeown in that case was, in my opinion, truly exceptional — one of the finest decisions in its style of analysis on the issue of state-sponsored religious displays that I have come across — even if I have some disagreements about the holding and whether it successfully negotiates around Justice Kennedy’s plurality opinion in Salazar v. Buono.
In a somewhat unexpected move (at least to me), the Solicitor General has joined the cert. petition, making it more likely that the Court might take the case. More tomorrow.
Here’s a very interesting analysis, written just before the results, of the religious cross-currents in yesterday’s Wisconsin recall attempt. The author, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, points out the divisions among and within Wisconsin’s religious communities, which, he says, reflect divisions in the electorate as a whole. For example, on the central issue in the recall attempt, the right of public sector unions to bargain collectively, the Catholic archbishop of Milwaukee wrote a letter supporting collective bargaining rights, while the Catholic bishop of Madison wrote a letter stating that reasonable people could disagree on the matter. In the end, most Catholics supported Governor Scott Walker: exit polls had him winning the Catholic vote by 10 points. This could portend a shift in Wisconsin politics, where Catholics traditionally vote Democratic, in contrast to Dutch Reformed Protestants, who typically vote Republican. The article contains one great quote that has nothing to do with the recall attempt, but that is nonetheless reflective of the American penchant for non-sectarianism we have discussed elsewhere on CLR Forum. At his inaugural prayer breakfast, the Born-Again Christian Scott Walker declared, “The great creator, no matter who you worship, is the one from which our freedoms are derived, not the government.” Can’t get more American than that.
I’ll be participating tomorrow in “The Changing Faces of Religion and Secularity,” a conference taking place at Harvard Law School. The program is here. CLR Friends in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello.