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Harsher Penalties for Church Property Vandals

Court rules Florida law is acceptable.

Key point. State laws imposing harsher penalties upon crimes committed in churches than in other locations do not impermissibly prefer churches in violation of the first amendment's "nonestablishment of religion" clause.

A Florida court upheld a state law imposing harsher penalties upon persons who damage church property than other kinds of property. A defendant was convicted of defacing church properties by spray—painting them with anti—religious symbols and words. His sentence was harsher because state law imposed increased penalties upon those who deface religious property. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the state law unconstitutionally favored religion. A state court rejected this argument and upheld the validity of the law. The court applied the United States Supreme Court's three—part Lemon test for determining whether or not the Florida ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 1996

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