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March 29, 2008


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There is a difference. The similarity is in both cases, there is assignment of beliefs. In Washington Grange, a political party is being assigned the belief of that person who would seemingly claim the party's endorsement. In Lee, a student is being assigned the belief that they are praying. But the (crucial) difference is the degree the belief is being assigned. In Washington Grange - the policitcal party may be assumed to endorse a particular person. This would be a hard belief to shake. In Lee, a student might be assumed to endorse a particular view. This would not be a hard view to shake. Put another way, it would be harder for a political party to dissacociate itself from a particular person claiming membership than it would be for a student to dissassociate itself from a prayer.

Kathleen Bergin

NP - thanks for your comment.

I thought about the "disassociation" issue you mentioned, and I can't see how a student could effectively disassociate from religion at the moment it most matters, that is, during the prayer itself if, as Scalia proposes, students could be required to stand out of respect for their more devout peers. But how could a student who is forced to stand disassociate herself from religion? It would have to be at some point either befor or after the prayer, and more likely before or after the ceremony itself is complete, wouldn't it? Scalia would say that type of disassociation would provide sufficient First Amendment protection, but how is that different than the type of pre or post-election disassociation political parties would likely attempt in Washington Grange but that Scalia says would not adequately protect their rights?

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