ADL Criticizes Church-State Violations in House Juvenile Justice Bill Calling Them "False Solutions to Troubling Issues"
Washington, DC, June 17, 1999
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today criticized
the adoption of several unconstitutional amendments within a broad juvenile justice
measure, calling them "false solutions to troubling issues." The House adopted
an amendment promoting the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings, an
amendment that would bypass existing constitutional safeguards in government funding of
juvenile programs run by religious institutions, and a measure intended to discourage
legal challenges to improper religious activities in public schools.
Criticizing both the substance of the amendments and the failure of the House leaders
to permit sufficient time for reasoned debate, Howard P. Berkowitz, ADL National Chairman,
and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Todays proceedings are a model of how not to legislate on these most
important and divisive issues for our nation. With almost no warning, in a series of
rapid-fire votes, following the barest of floor debates which occurred in the middle of
last night, the House of Representatives has approved a number of constitutionally-suspect
We strongly object to a process which provided little opportunity for reasoned debate
on these issues, which go to the heart of the First Amendments church-state
separation protections. These amendments were adopted without the benefit of Committee
hearings and without any meaningful discussion of their impact.
Worst of all, the House has adopted these troubling amendments in a bill designed to
better protect our nations children. These are false solutions to troubling issues
-- juvenile crime and violence in schools. The real answer lies in promoting programs that
educate parents and children to prevent violence and counter hate by challenging bigotry
and promoting tolerance, decency and truth.
We are pleased the House rejected another vague and troubling amendment designed to
prevent the Justice Department from funding hate crime prevention programs or publications
which teach tolerance toward all Americans -- including gays and lesbians. A number of
conservative religious organizations had actively lobbied on behalf of this restrictive
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.