Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Justice Sandra Day O'Conner is apparently concerned that there are some in the world who are still not aware of her breathtaking ignorance, even after she so famously displayed it in a number of her Supreme Court opinions this summer. To remedy the situation, she's at it again. Has this woman ever even read a book?

The Court heard argument yesterday in the case of a student in Washington state who was denied a state scholarship because he was pursuing a major in pastoral ministry. According to the wizards of the state of Washington, such a thing would violate the supposed "separation of church and state" (a phrase which, by the way, never once appears in the Constitution).

There is an old saying that goes something like "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." Yesterday, Justice O'Conner decided to remove all doubt. In questioning Solicitor General Ted Olsen, the following exchange took place, according to the New York Times:
Describing the Washington program, Mr. Olson said that "the clear and unmistakable message is that religion and preparation for a career in the ministry is disfavored and discouraged." He added, "the person who wants to believe in God or wants to have a position of religious leadership is the one that's singled out for discriminatory treatment."

His argument met an unexpectedly skeptical response from Justice O'Connor, who said: "Well, but of course, there's been a couple of centuries of practice in this country of not funding religious instruction by tax money." She added, "I mean, that's as old as the country itself, isn't it?"
Well no, it's not, as any cursory reading of American history might have shown her. Just a look the presidency of Thomas Jefferson alone (who is held up by the Left as the paragon of church-state separation) would be enough to dispel such nonsense.

Among other things, as president he:

  • Three times signed legislation funding missionaries to the Indians

  • Funded the construction of church buildings for the Indians

  • Three times extended a 1787 act of Congress which designated special lands "for the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Bretheren missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity."

  • As Bill Federer writes in America's God and Country, President Jefferson "chaired the school board for the District of Columbia , where he authored the first plan of education adopted by the city of Washington. The plan used the Bible, and Isaac Watts' Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, 1707, as the principal books for teaching reading to students."
And, of course, Jefferson also funded congressional chaplains, and after his presidency designated the rotunda at the University of Virginia for chapel services and encouraged the teaching of theology there. Other than that, though, I suppose O'Connor is right on top of it. What a scholar.

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