In response to the news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer plans to retire from the court, Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement:
“During his nearly 28 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Breyer has been an advocate for religious freedom. He supported religious minorities and challenged his fellow justices to respect America’s flourishing religious diversity. In particular, Justice Breyer has written powerfully in defense of religious minorities compelled to sit through predominantly Christian invocations during government-sponsored meetings, taxpayers forced to fund private religious education and, most recently, government officials trying to protect public health during a deadly pandemic as some houses of worship demanded the privilege to ignore in-person gathering limits.
“Although Justice Breyer did not always take the most strict church-state separation position, he often tempered the opinions of conservative justices by recommending a more moderate approach that lessened the harm to religious freedom. We thank Justice Breyer for his long service to our country and his commitment to protecting our constitutional freedoms.
“We urge President Biden to nominate a justice who reflects the diversity of our country and understands that separation of church and state is the cornerstone of religious freedom.
“We need a justice who will be a bulwark against the court’s ultra-conservative majority, who seem set on redefining religious freedom as a sword to harm others instead of a shield to protect all of us. We deserve a justice who will defend our country’s foundational principle of separation of religion and government like our democracy depends on it – because it does.”
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications