Using the Equal-Protection Clause in the Service of Religious Freedom

In a case soon to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, the state of Missouri denied a church preschool a grant to transform discarded rubber tires into a safe surface for its playground—because the state constitution forbids giving public funds to religious institutions. Terry Eastland explains the case’s significance:

The church is making three claims: one under the First Amendment’s establishment clause, a second under its free-exercise clause, and a third under the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal-protection clause. It is the equal-protection argument that is most interesting. . . . [In an amicus brief], the Pacific Legal Foundation . . . argues that, while equal-protection cases “most commonly address discrimination on the basis of race,” the Supreme Court’s equal-protection decisions “reflect the view that differential treatment on the basis of religion is just as intolerable.” . . .

The foundation says that Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution by excluding [the church playground] from its Scrap Tire Program on the basis of religion. Treating people differently on the basis of race is subject to “strict scrutiny,” the Supreme Court’s “most stringent standard of review.” The Pacific Legal Foundation argues that “strict scrutiny is just as appropriate” when classifications based on religion are under review. . . .

By taking seriously unequal treatment on the basis of religion, the Pacific Legal Foundation has offered an understanding of equal protection and what it entails that is worthy of the Court’s attention.

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Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: church and state, Constitution, Religion & Holidays, Religious Freedom, Supreme Court

Will America Invite Israel to Join Its Multinational Coalitions?

From the Korean War onward, the U.S. has rarely fought wars alone, but has instead led coalitions of various allied states. Israel stands out in that it has close military and diplomatic relations with Washington yet its forces have never been part of these coalitions—even in the 1991 Gulf War, when Iraqi missiles were raining down on its cities. The primary reason for its exclusion was the sensitivity of participating Arab and Muslim nations. But now that Jerusalem has diplomatic relations with several Arab countries and indeed regularly participates alongside them in U.S.-led joint military exercises, David Levy believes it may someday soon be asked to contribute to an American expedition.

It is unlikely that Israel would be expected by the U.S. to deploy the Golani [infantry] brigade or any other major army unit. Instead, Washington will likely solicit areas of IDF niche expertise. These include missile defense and special forces, two areas in which Israel is a world leader. The IDF has capabilities that it can share by providing trainers and observers. Naval and air support would also be expected as these assets are inherently deployable. Israel can also provide allies in foreign wars with intelligence and cyber-warfare support, much of which can be accomplished without the physical deployment of troops.

Jerusalem’s previous reasons for abstention from coalitions were legitimate. Since its independence, Israel has faced existential threats. Conventional Arab armies sought to eliminate the nascent state in 1948-49, 1967, and again in 1973. This danger remained ever-present until the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Egypt and Israel. Post-Camp David, the threats to Israel remain serious but are no longer existential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, this would pose a new existential threat. Until then, Israel is relatively well secured.

Jerusalem’s new Arab allies would welcome its aid. Western capitals, especially Washington, should be expected to pursue Israel’s military assistance, and Jerusalem will have little choice but to acquiesce to the expeditionary expectation.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: IDF, U.S. military, U.S.-Israel relationship