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Hastings Law Journal

Authors

Harry Simon

Abstract

In the landmark decision of Lynch v. Donnelly, the United States Supreme Court upheld the maintenance of a Nativity scene on land owned by a nonprofit corporation with public funds from the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. This Note argues that the Court's decision in Lynch represents a radical departure from traditional establishment clause analysis and undermines the continuing separation of church and state under federal law. This Note observes that, in contrast to the federal Constitution, many state constitutions contain explicit prohibitions on government activities that aid religion. California courts have interpreted the California Constitution to prohibit a variety of government activities aiding religion that are permissible under current interpretations of the federal Constitution. This Note demonstrates that these recent interpretations of the California Constitution provide strong guarantees against state sponsorship of religious displays. The Note suggests that the broad protection against government aid to religion afforded by the California Constitution should serve as a model for other states in the interpretation of their related constitutional provisions.

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