Supreme Court watch
It's going to be a busy year for religion at the Supreme Court, as the justices will consider both the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against the use of the phrase "under God" in classroom recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a challenge to Washington state's constitutional prohibition against scholarships for religious studies.
But it could have been an even bigger year. This week, amid various protests, the Supreme Court rejected several other cases, which could have widespread consequences.
"No other court has ever held that religious clubs have the right to meet in a public school during instructional time when attendance is mandated," lawyers had argued in court papers. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (the court that ruled against "under God" in classrooms") disagreed in a ruling last year, noting the Supreme Court's 2001 Good News Club v. Milford Central School decision, which reiterated the principle that religious groups must be granted the same access, rights, and privileges as all other extracurricular groups on campus.
Though the Supreme Court could have reiterated that principle again in Jacoby v. Prince, it probably would have been overkill. In any case, it's implicitly clear across the nation that religious clubs can meet during school hours (if other extracurricular clubs can); and it's explicitly clear in the nine states covered by the 9th Circuit.
If the Supreme Court is tired of ruling on religious clubs at public schools, it must be exhausted when it comes to religion at graduation ...1