SCOTUS under Trump


I don’t know what the courts were thinking, but here is a guess:

  1. The state says that non-employees in the chamber are a security threat. The courts almost always defer to the executive on this sort of assessment.

  2. The state could probably argue that it does not have the resources to hire a Muslim chaplain. Remember, it doesn’t even have the resources to hire the guards it needs.

  3. So how to avoid the problem of religious preference? Either
    (a) ban the Christian chaplain from the chamber, or
    (b) point out that a state-employed chaplain is expected to provide cross-faith spiritual support to people of all faiths, not just their own. Their personal faith is irrelevant, just like the personal faith of every other employee is irrelevant.

  4. But regardless of whether you end up with (a) or (b), Ray’s imam still wouldn’t make it into the chamber. Therefore, his request is not particularly likely to succeed. But at this point in time, he needs to be very likely to succeed to get a stay of execution. Therefore, no stay of execution.


I don’t think they typically defer to the executive over the establishment clause, though, do they? I’m certainly not a SC justice, but given the vast deference given to religious expression over government power in past SC decisions, the decision to ignore that in this case is troubling.


They defer to the state assessment of security interests. In other words, the courts are very unlikely to contradict the executive and declare that non-employees actually pose no security threat. And the establishment clause is balanced against security and other interests.

The very existence of government chaplains is an example of balancing the establishment clause against other interests. I mean, if the establishment clause automatically trumped all other interests then there would be no chaplains at all.

Furthermore, a law that appears to favor a religion does not violate the establishment clause if the government provides a secular reason for it. So December 25 is a federal holiday, because we need federal holidays and December 25 is as good a day as any other. This does not violate the EC. Likewise “blue laws” that force businesses to close on Sundays. In contrast, there isn’t really a secular rationale for a nativity creche, so it’s not allowed.


Wait, isn’t “Limbo” still a thing in Roman Catholic theology? I’m very much a lapsed, agnostic/almost atheist “cultural” Catholic, but as a kid around 50 years ago or a bit less, that was always the explanation about where unbaptized babies go when they die.


Limbo is in limbo.

Just kidding, it’s dead.


Over ten years ago no less! Thanks.



But what happened to all the babies that were in Limbo? Are they just floating around in space now?


They’re in a caravan headed for El Paso.


Found one of them.