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MU Professor Says Ruling Provides Glimpse of the Supreme Court's Views on Church-State

June 25, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, 573-882-9144,

Columbia, Mo. — With new two new justices on the Supreme Court, today's ruling in the Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation case provides insight as to the body's views and opinions regarding church-state affairs, said a University of Missouri-Columbia law professor.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that taxpayers can't challenge the White House's initiative which allows religious charities to receive federal dollars. The lawsuit was initiated by a group of atheists and agnostics against Bush administration officials — including the head of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Carl H. Esbeck, who teaches law at MU, said the Court's ruling in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation is pivotal because it lays a foundation for what to expect in matters related to church-state affairs. Esbeck, who helped craft President Bush's faith-based initiative, is available to discuss the Court's decision.

Esbeck has been a member of MU's faculty since 1981. He has published in the area of church-state relations and civil rights. Esbeck is a member of the Executive Committee of the Religious Liberties Practice Group of the Federalist Society. He serves as legal counsel to the Office of Governmental Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College. Esbeck also is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Journal of Law & Religion.

From 1999 to 2002, Esbeck was on leave in Washington, D.C. to direct a public interest law firm known as the Center for Law and Religious Freedom and to serve as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice.