New York, NY, February 25, 2004 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded a U.S. Supreme Court decision that states can mandate strict church-state separation. In Locke v. Davey, the Court ruled that Washington State has the right to provide for even stricter separation of church and state than the U.S. Constitution and may prohibit use of state scholarship funds for college theology degrees.
"The Supreme Court was right to make clear that the State of Washington can treat religious and secular instruction differently," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This decision will make it more difficult for proponents of 'charitable choice' and school voucher programs to assert that any basic rights are being denied when their programs are rejected as violations of state constitutional provisions mandating strict church-state separation."
Joshua Davey, a college student majoring in pastoral studies, alleged that this prohibition based on a Washington constitutional provision violates the Free Exercise clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Washington provision specifically prohibits state funding of religious instruction.
In reaching its decision, the Court stated that the State of Washington can treat religious and secular instruction differently. ADL submitted an amicus curiae brief in this case.