Washington State University has a scholarship program affording financial aid to qualifying students to study anything they might want to in college except for one subject, theology.
To judge by remarks of justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, that violation of the First Amendment might get a green light.
Why, Justice Stephen Breyer said, just think of the "implications" if the court were to say government cannot discriminate against religion. Pretty soon, you would have all kinds of other people — in nursing, contracting, educational and other programs — knocking on the door and demanding to be let in.
In other words, if the court does the Constitution-abiding, just thing in this case, it might have to be just elsewhere. Dear, oh, dear. What would we then have? Everywhere you might look, there would be justice, justice, justice. How awful.
A couple of things are obvious here.
One is that what Washington State did truly is offensive to the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion, even if it is in accord with a state constitutional provision inspired by a 19th-century bout of anti-Catholic bigotry.
Second, a Supreme Court decision in favor of the theological student would not compel any governmental unit to spend money, only to be fair when it was engaged in certain kinds of spending.
It's certainly true, as Breyer and other justices said, that this case could set a precedent that could have far-ranging consequences, but the worst precedent would be to do the wrong thing, thereby enabling others to do the wrong thing.