Salazar v. Buono and the Future of the Establishment Clause

Lund, Christopher C. | September 19, 2010

Commentators often complain that Establishment Clause jurisprudence is incoherent and unprincipled. That accusation usually seems overwrought—perhaps we should not expect so much consistency from a Court that decides only the cases that come before it, holds multiple values, operates with continually changing personnel, and gives significant but unquantifiable weight to precedent. Yet of the areas of Establishment Clause litigation, this complaint carries the most force in the context of passive-display cases—cases where the government passively displays a religious symbol, like a cross or a crèche, a Ten Commandments monument, or an illuminated Bible. Here the critics have a point.