Doctrine Of Stare Decisis Should Not Apply
The following letter was sent to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
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Separate statements made by you in your concurrence to Gamble v. United States are very encouraging to us-as they are to many Americans.
It is our opinion that the doctrine of stare decisis should not apply in the case of Engel v. Vitale. The decision appeared rendered without any precedent law and it repudiated the original and historical meaning of the Establishment Clause: the federal government has no power over religion; matters of religion belong to the states. Further, precedent-lacking Engel v. Vitale became the basis for successive decisions which increased religious intolerance in schools and in society at large. Alarmingly, the decision also decimated the Free Exercise Clause, leading to persecution of Christians by radical groups and individuals seeking to destroy any sign of religion in America.
The plaintiffs in Engel v. Vitale “created a ‘constitutional right’ that had never existed before-the right of a nonbelieving minority to deny the majority of Americans their right to express their belief in God while at school [emphasis in the original],” wrote Horwitz in Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America (2018, p. 54). Justice Scalia presciently recognized that the Court’s blunder would increase resistance by Americans.
Rather than engaging in a plain reading of Jefferson’s letter to Danbury Baptist Association, liberal-leaning Justices of the Warren Court twisted and distorted Jefferson’s words-especially his metaphor of a “wall of separation between Church & State,” thus destroying his true intent and meaning. Whereas Jefferson assured the Association that the federal government never would interfere in religious matters, the Justices turned a blind eye to such guarantees.
Regarding the 4th PRINCIPLE (Without Religion the Government of a Free People Cannot be Maintained), Skousen wrote in The 5000 Year Leap: The 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World: “It is clear from the writings of the Founders as well as the Commentaries of Justice Story that the First Amendment was designed to eliminate forever the interference of the federal government in any religious matters within the various states,” (2006, p. 88). Yet, wasn’t federal interference exactly what occurred with the Warren Court’s decision in Engel v. Vitale? The decision left our nation reeling! Surely Engel v. Vitale qualifies as a “demonstrably erroneous precedent” where the policy of stare decisis needs re-examination.
Our letter to you was precipitated by bully tactics from a disgruntled resident against Clymer Central School District, Chautauqua County, New York (see enclosed: “Outsider Anti-Religious Bigotry ‘Wins’ In Clymer,” McGinnis, May 12, 2019; “Fundamental Law Has Been Ignored In Church, State Cases,” Nelson, June 2, 2019). In small, rural communities, school functions and activities become prime focus for community interest and participation. How is it, then, that one grudge-holding individual, using a federal Supreme Court decision that lacked any precedence, could bludgeon a school district in order to overturn decades of community tradition? Both Madison and Jefferson would offer a clear and succinct response: “He can’t. The Constitution forbids federal involvement in religious matters.”
The Court’s decision destroyed traditions stemming from the birth of our nation, and altered moral values and attitudes. Tragically, it divided America. Strong words mark your position: “In our constitutional structure, our role of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course.” We respectfully request that as senior justice you take the initiative in urging your fellow Supreme Court justices to reexamine the Court’s policy of stare decisis regarding Engel v. Vitale-and “correct course.”
Deann Nelson, Ed.D.
The Rev. Mel McGinnis
Deann Nelson is a Jamestown resident. The Rev. Mel McGinnis is a Frewsburg resident.