Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lift on FEMA ban may prove too much for the Establishment Clause

 Last Thursday , Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Blunt (R-MO) introduced a bill last week to lift FEMA's ban on providing aid to houses or worship.  The bill has been referred to committee.
The House passed a similar measure earlier in the year and The Christian Post reports that the
Becket Fund for Religious Liberty supports the bill, according to legal counsel Daniel Blomberg.

Our representatives and special interests groups seem confident in their chances to overrule FEMA's
ban; however, SCOTUS may have something to say.  In Lemon v. Kurtzman,  Chief Justice Burger
introduced what is known as the lemon test, a three-pronged test for laws dealing with the Establishment Clause.  To pass muster, a statute must have
  1. A Secular Legislative Purpose
  2. Principal Effect that Neither Advances Nor Inhibits Religion
  3. Must not foster Excessive Government Entanglement with Religion.
The third part of the lemon test may prove to be problematic should the lifting of the FEMA ban be challenged.  FEMA determines eligibility for providing aid and can reject applications.  This could lead the Court to question whether it is possible that excessive entanglement might occur.  Giving
the history of scandals such as the IRS, the ban will need to be concisely written with very specific
criteria leaving no room for interpretation.


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