In the past weeks, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has attracted the ire of countless, largely conservative, political blocs. Yet, as Maggie Hyde notes here, opposition aroused by the hearings has not been limited to traditionally conservative camps. The prime motivation behind atheists’ and secularists’ lukewarm reception? Kagan is slated to replace Justice John Paul Stevens—perhaps the justice most committed to the doctrine of separation between Church and State that the court has ever seen. And her credibility among secularists and atheists is tenuous, to say the least:

In 2007, the Supreme Court rejected, 5-4, a challenge from Gaylor’s group over the White House’s faith-based initiatives office. Without deciding the merits of the complaint, the court rejected Gaylor’s argument that she had legal standing to sue because she is a taxpayer.
Stevens dissented.

On Wednesday, in response to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kagan indicated that she agreed with the court’s reasoning.

“The injury can’t come just by virtue of being a taxpayer, but has to come from something else in addition,” she said.

“Such as the individual being actually affected,” Feinstein replied.

“Yes, exactly right,” Kagan answered.

While Kagan’s confirmation is expected, and outright opposition from atheist and secular groups is not likely, it is evident that this nominee is not the darling child of the pro-separation lobby that Stevens was.  In the words of Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation: “‘It’s going to be a weakened court’ (without him).”

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