Seventh Circuit Review


Religion's role in government activity marks a contentious area in the legal community. The First Amendment, by its own language, is ambiguous and fails to give true, clear guidance on where a line might be drawn between religion and government. Spirited debate on their coexistence is all but a constant in American society. Enter public education. The edification of American children from kindergarten through higher education has led to furious debate on when and where it is appropriate for religion to enter. In a recent case, Badger Catholic v. Walsh, the Seventh Circuit discussed religion in education in the context of funding issues at the university level. Following several Supreme Court decisions regarding religion's role in education, institutional forum creation, and when the government must fund religious activity, the Seventh Circuit muddied the line that the First Amendment intended to draw. While it is truly a "serpentine wall" of tests and rules, the First Amendment was nevertheless intended to stand as an impregnable barrier between religion and government. In contrast to the Founders' intentions, Badger Catholic now requires a public educational institution to fund forms of religious expression whenever it creates a forum open to the public, regardless of how it may proselytize or conduct truly religious activity. As such, the decision strays from precedent, constitutional text, and our history.

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