Reform Jewish Movement Applauds Supreme Court's Decision to Allow States to Protect the Separation of Church and State
Contact:Alexis Rice or Rob Levy
Saperstein: Those who thought the Establishment Clause was down for the count appear to have counted too quickly.
WASHINGTON, February 25, 2004 - In a landmark 7-2 decision, the US Supreme Court voted today to allow states to deny public funds to students studying theology. Returning to core principles of the separation of church and state, the court's ruling supports the state of Washington which rescinded scholarship funding to Jonathan Davey, who was studying to be a minister. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement responding to the decision:
At a time when the court and the Administration have increasingly supported state sponsorship of religious activities, today's landmark ruling makes clear that the separation of church and state remains a fundamental Constitutional value, one which will continue to shape our nation for the better. Those who thought the Establishment Clause was down for the count appear to have counted too quickly.
Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the 7-member majority correctly noted that "Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," and went on to conclude that "the State's interest in not funding the pursuit of devotional degrees is substantial." We agree, and are proud to have participated as an amicus in this important case.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis .