Jerry Coyne writes something on the Supreme Courts' Greece v Galloway decision that is almost too stupid to be worth commentary. Almost.
The most frightening thing on there, though, was this (my emphasis):
An opinion by Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, explained their refusal to join Part II-B of Justice Kennedy’s opinion. They argued that the Establishment Clause should not be seen as being applicable to the states.
Do we need to remind Scalia, who is an “originalist” (i.e., one who adheres to what he sees as the original intent of the U.S. Constitution’s writers), what the Establishment Clause is? It’s at the beginning of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Under what interpretation is that not applicable to the states? Are Scalia and Thomas saying that although Congress can’t have make an established religion, or prohibit exercise of some religions, or prohibit freedom of the press, the states can?:-/
That’s insane. I look forward to reading their opinions; this is going to be juicy.
A prime purpose of the Establishment Clause was to protect state establishments of religion-- at the time of ratification, many states had official state churches. The Establishment Clause guaranteed that the federal government couldn't establish a national religion, which would deprive the individual states of their own state religions. Established state churches continued into the middle decades of the 19th century, and were perfectly constitutional, protected by the Establishment Clause from interference by the federal government.
The Incorporation Doctrine is itself dubious. It is not stated explicitly in the 14th Amendment, and many legal scholars and Supreme Court justices (including Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia) have argued cogently that the Establishment Clause cannot be incorporated to the states, precisely because the Establishment Clause is an anti-incorporation doctrine. The Establishment Clause basically takes the federal government out of the state-religion-regulation game, and can't therefore be used as a basis for federal state-religion regulation.
Coyne of course knows none of this. He poses as a public intellectual, even as a sage on Establishment Clause issues, but he is ignorant of the most rudimentary aspects of Establishment Clause history and jurisprudence.
It is a sorry state of affairs that this semi-literate anti-Christian bigot is taken seriously in our public discourse.