Consider this an update. Two weeks ago I wrote a column, which was more of a rebuttal, to a blog entry written up by Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s communications associate Sandhya Bathija. The work, which was entitled “Access Denied”, claimed that a recent Supreme Court decision allowing a voucher program in Arizona to continue had destroyed the rights of Americans to sue the government over tax dollar allocations that might violate the establishment clause.
“All Americans – on the right and the left – should be disappointed. This is not about where you stand ideologically, but whether you believe every American has a right seek justice when they feel their rights have been violated,” wrote Bathija.
Her claim, as shown by the opinions of the Justices who formed the majority, was inaccurate. The precedent of taxpayers being allowed to challenge the constitutionality of certain allocations, namely if they regard something religious in nature, remains on the books.
Quoting Justice Kennedy, “In [Flast v. Cohen], by contrast, the allegation was that the Federal Government violated the Establishment Clause in the exercise of its legislative authority both to collect and spend tax dollars…In the decades since Flast, the Court has been careful to enforce this requirement.”
Now Bathija, who said with full certainty that our rights had been damaged, has now apparently concluded the opposite. Two weeks after writing that the Court destroyed some of our rights, Bathija wrote a blog entry entitled “’Faith-based‘ Fracas” where she wrote about taxpayers doing the very thing she claimed was no longer allowed: suing the government over expenditures that may violate the Establishment Clause.
Here is what she wrote regarding Pedreira v. Kentucky Baptist Home for Children:
“Though the appellate panel dismissed Pedreira’s statutory employment discrimination claims, it upheld state taxpayers’ right to challenge state support for a faith-based agency with a record of indoctrination and job discrimination.”
In one article Bathja said the right of taxpayers to sue on this issue is gone yet fourteen days later, she accidentally admitted that the right still exists after all. She claimed it long enough to accrue outrage and sympathy (and possibly monetary donations) from like-minded individuals only to step away from the claim just in time to celebrate a secularist victory.
This is how most partisan organizations operate. Hopefully, in the future Americans United can be a little more honest when reporting on whether or not certain rights are gone. Otherwise, they could inflame their peers to rally against causes not because they have been injured in some way, but because the higher ups of Americans United do not like them. This incitement of anger, by the way, can be readily found in the comments section for the posting of the link to the “Access Denied” entry on Americans United’s Facebook page.
Despite the hopes, inciting anger was probably the intention from the moment “Access Denied” was being written to when it was posted. Furthermore, its likely that other articles written before this one for the Americans United blog Wall of Separation and articles to come have as a purpose rallying passion against causes the organization in question dislikes. Once again, most partisan groups do these acts quite frequently. Nevertheless, an act should never be considered benevolent solely because a lot of people do it.