MSNBC reports on Slashdot vs. Scientology

Judge Leonie Brinkema


v. Arnaldo Pagliarina LERMA, Digital Gateway Systems, The Washington
Post, Marc Fisher, and Richard Leiby, Defendants.
Civ. A. No. 95-1107-A.
United States District Court,
E.D. Virginia,
Alexandria Division.
Nov. 29, 1995.

In their effort to enjoin The Post, the RTC is essentially urging that we permit their religious belief in the secrecy of the AT documents to "trump" significant conflicting constitutional rights. In particular, they ask us to dismiss the equally valid First Amendment protections of freedom of the press. Furthermore, RTC asks that we allow the Free Exercise Clause to deflate the doctrine of fair use as embodied in the copyright statute, one of the very status laws upon which the RTC has based this lawsuit.

Were they arguing to a religious council placed within a theocratic government, RTC's arguments might prevail. But this Court is a secular branch of a secular democratic government. Our traditional separation of church from the state, combined with the heterogeneity of religious practices in this country compel us to reject the RTC's arguments. "While the Free Exercise Clause clearly prohibits the use of state action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone, it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the State to practice its beliefs." Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 57, 105 S.Ct. 2479, 2490, 86 L.Ed.2d 29 (1985). In the same vein, RTC may not employ the machinery of this Court to enforce its religious prescriptions against The Post by enjoining otherwise permissible activity.


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