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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ind. Decisions - "Circuit Court rejects suit opposing religion in vets care"

The 7th Circuit's decision 32-page decision yesterday in the case of Freedom from Religion Foundation v. Nicholson, out of Wisconsin, is the subject of an AP story today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Some quotes:

MADISON, Wis. – Taxpayers cannot sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for incorporating religion into its health care programs for the nation's veterans, an appeals court has ruled.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and three of its members have no legal standing to bring the case.

The group was trying to end the department's practice of asking patients about their religion in "spiritual assessments," its use of chaplains to treat patients, and drug and alcohol treatment programs that incorporate religion. It claimed those practices violated the separation of church and state.

But the court ruled that federal taxpayers cannot challenge those expenditures. The court cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in which the same group was not allowed to sue over President Bush's faith-based initiative.

In that case, the court ruled 5-4 the executive branch cannot be sued by taxpayers for expenses that allegedly promote religion. Cases can only be brought when the questionable expenditures are explicitly authorized in a congressional spending bill, the court ruled.

Congress never authorized spending on the chaplain services, pastoral care and other programs challenged, the 7th Circuit ruled.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 7, 2008 01:30 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions