Hein Case Could Have Serious Consequences

On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an important case that isn’t getting nearly the attention it deserves.

At first glance, Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation sounds obtuse and dry. It deals with issues of “standing,

Is the Foundation right? They certainly have a case to make, but the federal government and its allies in the Religious Right would rather they not be permitted to make it. So far, the merits of this case have never been hashed out in any courtroom. The federal government sought to dismiss the case, arguing that FFRF lacks the legal right to sue. A federal appeals court disagreed, and now the Supreme Court will weigh in.

Lining up behind the administration is an array of Religious Right organizations, led by TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice. These groups, which despise the separation of church and state, want to make it difficult, if not impossible, for taxpayers to sue in federal court to protect that principle in many cases.

Many Americans are bothered by taxpayer-supported religion. In the Hein case, the challenge was brought a group that promotes non-belief. But many religious people also oppose so-called “faith-based