Atheists 'Optimistic' About Sotomayor Pick

Tuesday, 26 May 2009 11:51 PM

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An Atheist church-state separation group hailed President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for a position on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists said that the he was "cautiously optimistic" about Sotomayor.

"Her record reflects a strong commitment to the First Amendment and the separation of government and religion," said Mr. Silverman. "We nevertheless want to hear more about her positions on various social issues."

Attorney Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists, praised Ms. Sotomayor's reasoning in a case where she opposed the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. The legislation requires that government pay special attention to the privileges and rights of religious groups.

"This is bad law, and Judge Sotomayor took a courageous stance in opposing efforts to broaden the scope of RFRA," said Kagin. "She has also cited the high standards known as the Lemon test (LEMON v. KURTZMAN) which prevent government from establishing religion or unconstitutionally aiding religious organizations and practices."

"Judge Sotomayor clearly sees that the Establishment Clause of our Constitution erects a 'wall of separation' between church and state, and that Americans are guaranteed both freedom of and freedom from intrusive religion in their lives," added Mr. Kagin.

American Atheists is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

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