What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 11, 2010

Fact-Checking Santorum

[Still blogging from a secret undisclosed location]

While working on a long-ish blog post about Ex-Senator Rick Santorum and his speech in Houston, I found the transcript of the speech.

I read the first coupla paragraphs and realized it's gonna need some serious fact-checking on its own. I haven't gotten any further than the opening, by the way.

Here's Lil Ricky:
Fifty years ago this Sunday JFK delivered a speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association to dispel suspicions about the role the papacy might play in the government of this country under his administration. Let's make no mistake about it -- Kennedy was addressing a real issue at the time. Prejudice against Catholics threatened to cost him the election.

But on that day, Kennedy chose not just to dispel fear, he chose to expel faith.

Let me quote from the beginning of Kennedy's speech:
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.
The idea of strict or absolute separation of church and state is not and never was the American model. It was a model used in countries like France and until recently Turkey, but it found little support in America until it was introduced into the public discourse by Justice Hugo Black in the case of Everson v. The Board of Education in 1947. (Black, by the way, was a Catholic-hating former member of the KKK who ironically enough advocated this strict separation doctrine to keep public funds from Catholic schools.)
Justice Black, by the way, resigned from the Klan 20+ years before writing the majority opinion in Everson v The Board of Education. But let's grant Rick this one. Black had been a member of the Klan (boo! Klan bad!). There were 4 others on the Court who agreed with Black's opinion. Were they Klan members, too?

Uh, no.

And what of that ruling?

This is the funny part. Rick gets the ruling wrong. You'll see how in a minute.

Here's Black's description of the issue from his majority opinion:
A New Jersey statute authorizes its local school districts to make rules and contracts for the transportation of children to and from schools. The appellee, a township board of education, acting pursuant to this statute, authorized reimbursement to parents of money expended by them for the bus transportation of their children on regular busses operated by the public transportation system. Part of this money was for the payment of transportation of some children in the community to Catholic parochial schools. These church schools give their students, in addition to secular education, regular religious instruction conforming to the religious tenets and modes of worship of the Catholic Faith. The superintendent of these schools is a Catholic priest.

The appellant, in his capacity as a district taxpayer, filed suit in a state court challenging the right of the Board to reimburse parents of parochial school students. He contended that the statute and the resolution passed pursuant to it violated both the State and the Federal Constitutions. That court held that the legislature was without power to authorize such payment under the state constitution. 132 N.J.L. 98, 39 A.2d 75. The New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals reversed, holding that neither the statute nor the resolution passed pursuant to it was in conflict with the State constitution or the provisions of the Federal Constitution in issue. 133 N.J.L. 350, 44 A.2d 333. The case is here on appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 344(a).
So, what did this anti-Catholic former Klan member opine?

This is from the case syllabus:
Held:
1. The expenditure of tax raised funds thus authorized was for a public purpose, and did not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Pp. 5-8.
2. The statute and resolution did not violate the provision of the First Amendment (made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment) prohibiting any "law respecting an establishment of religion." Pp. 8-18. [p2]
Take a close look at that. That Jersey taxpayer lost the case. The Court held that the statute allowing the travel reimbursements for parents sending their kids to parochial (read: Catholic ) schools was Constitutional. So when Rick (a lawyer, by the way) says that Black "advocated this strict separation doctrine to keep public funds from Catholic schools" he has to know that he's, uh, not representing the truth adequately enough for us to say, "He's being honest."

That's dishonest spin #1.

Dishonest spin #2 comes when Rick writes that the phrase "separation of church and state":
...found little support in America until it was introduced into the public discourse by Justice Hugo Black in the case of Everson v. The Board of Education in 1947.
If that was correct then one would expect the dissenting opinions in this case to oppose this so-called "separation", right?

Uh, no. The dissents also recognize the "separation of church and state." From Robert H. Jackson's dissent:
[The State] may socialize utilities and economic enterprises and make taxpayers' business out of what conventionally had been private business. It may make public business of individual welfare, health, education, entertainment or security. But it cannot make public business of religious worship or instruction, or of attendance at religious institutions of any character. There is no answer to the proposition, more fully expounded by MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE, that the effect of the religious freedom Amendment to our Constitution was to take every form of propagation of religion out of the realm of things which could directly or indirectly be made public business, and thereby be supported in whole or in part at taxpayers' expense. That is a difference which the Constitution sets up between religion and almost every other subject matter of legislation, a difference which goes to the very root of religious freedom and which the Court is overlooking today. This freedom was first in the Bill of Rights because it was first in the forefathers' minds; it was set forth in absolute terms, and its strength is its rigidity. It was intended not only to keep the states' hands out of religion, but to keep religion's hands off the state, and, above all, to keep bitter religious controversy out of public life by denying to every denomination any advantage from getting control of public policy or the public purse. Those great ends, I cannot but think, are immeasurably compromised by today's decision. [emphasis added.]
From Wiley Blount Rutledge's dissent:
Not simply an established church, but any law respecting an establishment of religion, is forbidden. The Amendment was broadly, but not loosely, phrased. It is the compact and exact summation of its author's views formed during his long struggle for religious freedom. In Madison's own words characterizing Jefferson's Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, the guaranty he put in our national charter, like the bill he piloted through the Virginia Assembly, was "a Model of technical precision, and perspicuous brevity." Madison could not have confused "church" and "religion," or "an established church" and "an establishment of religion."

The Amendment's purpose was not to strike merely at the official establishment of a single sect, creed or religion, outlawing only a formal relation such as had prevailed in England and some of the colonies. Necessarily, it was to uproot all such relationships. But the object was broader than separating church and state in this narrow sense. It was to create a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority by comprehensively forbidding every form of public aid or support for religion. In proof, the Amendment's wording and history unite with this Court's consistent utterances whenever attention has been fixed directly upon the question. [emphasis added.]
So w-a-a-a-y back in 1947 all sides (majority and dissenting) of this case agreed that there was a separation of church and state.

And yet Rick, lawyer and former member of the United States Senate says there isn't and there never was.

And that's just the first coupla paragraphs. What will I find if I go onto the second page???

[Still at a secret undisclosed location.]

1 comment:

History Matters said...

OK, so you don't like Rick Santorum. But his main theme here is true. It is clear that the Founders who wrote the First Amendment had a completely different view of the meaning of the words than do many courts today. But let's focus on Thomas Jefferson, who is quoted when courts use the "separation" metaphor. Jefferson, as President, authorized Christian missionaries for the Indians; he attended Christian worship services in the U.S. Capitol; he had the U.S. Marine Band perform for those Christian services. As president of the University of Virginia, he said that certain areas of the state-funded campus were to be set aside for teachers to pray with the students. As head of the Washington, D.S. school district, he approved the use of the Watts Hymnal and the Holy Bible for reading practice.

Santorum did not misrepresent the Founders intentions, whether or not he lined up all his quotes and facts correctly.