Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Church and State.

This week I had the privilege of appearing for the first day of oral arguments in the Fourth District, Division Three's new appellate courthouse in Santa Ana, California. A professional photographer was there to commemorate the event, snapping photos even during the proceedings. As a result, my back might make it into the history books.

Before the arguments, one of the justices came out in shirtsleeves and told counsel about the benches in the courtroom. Interestingly, the benches involved a church and state issue.

The justice explained that the benches were previously pews in a chapel on the campus of St. Louis University. In this capacity, they had icons (a cross-like figure containing Greek letters signifying Christ) on the sides. Because this was a public building, wooden pieces had to be affixed over the icons to hide the religious message underneath.

Even the court was evidently afraid of being sued.