The Supreme Court ends its work Monday with the highest of drama: an anticipated retirement, a ruling on the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and decisions in other major cases.You know, I teach "Religion and the Constitution," and I'm especially interested in all the Supreme Court cases about the Religion clauses, but I've got to tell you, I think it's very bizarre of us to regard the Ten Commandments case as the big case. I understand that we are drawn to symbols and that it's especially easy to feel that you're up-to-speed on an issue like this and have a lot to argue about, but it really just isn't that important whether there's a monument amid other monuments somewhere on the state capitol grounds or a framed text amid other framed texts on a courthouse wall.
I'm sure people will get very excited about this case whichever way it comes down, and I'll be excited too, and I plan to write lots of posts about it here tomorrow. But I'd just like to tell you in advance that I really don't care which side wins. I don't think it's the sort of thing that matters much at all. These are inconsequential displays, which is why they'll be approved if they are approved and why it won't make much difference if they are taken down either.
What I'm hoping for is a crisp, useful opinion clarifying the law in this area.
IN THE COMMENTS: I explain my support for a middle position on the Establishment Clause (responding to three different commenters):
There are ideologues who want to purge religion from the public eye who care [how the Court decides this particular case] and religionists who want to intrude a lot more of it who care. If either of these groups were getting very far, I would care about the outcome in the cases that would arise. But the displays at issue in this case are inconsequential. Still, they are too much for the extreme secularists and just the beginning of what extremists on the other side would like to see. The Court needs to draw a good line that fends off both extremes. I don't care which side of the line the particular displays at issue in this case end up on....
I ... think the [Establishment Clause] extremists are blowing [this case] out of normal proportion. Everyone needs to learn to get along, and those who want to purify things too much don't impress me. Sure, they'll be put out if the government wins in these cases. I don't think people who take great offense easily should be driving the outcomes....
I think most atheists ... and many religious people ... accept and even enjoy seeing evidence of other religions around them. It's part of art and history and culture -- part of the beauty of the world that we live in (either by the grace of God or by pure, weird chance).