ACLU Applauds Court Ruling on Funding for Theology Students

February 25, 2004

Source: The American Civil Liberties Union

On February 25, 2004 The American Civil Liberties Union reported, "The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed the decision by the Supreme Court to let states decide for themselves whether to grant scholarship money to theology students, which the ACLU said undermines one of the core legal arguments in the President’s so-called 'faith-based initiative.'  'The Supreme Court said today that states can’t be forced to use taxpayer dollars to train students for the ministry,' said Steven R. Shapiro, ACLU Legal Director. 'By reaffirming that the failure to fund religious activity is not the same as religious discrimination, today’s decision undermines a key argument that has been used by supporters of so-called faith-based initiatives.' The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Locke v. Davey, arguing that the Constitution did not require the state of Washington to pay for ministerial training, even as part of a general scholarship program. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, held that states could withhold the scholarships and not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Only Justices Thomas and Scalia dissented."