Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court’s opinion, "When Milford denied the Good News Club access to the school’s limited public forum on the ground that the club was religious in nature, it discriminated against the club because of its religious viewpoint in violation of the free-speech clause in the First Amendment."
The case, carefully watched by civil libertarians, religious-rights groups and public school superintendents across the nation, was argued and decided on First Amendment grounds. Interestingly, however, the majority opinion rested upon the Amendment’s freedom of speech clause, rather than the clause prohibiting state establishment of religion.
Justices Ginsberg, Souter and Stevens dissented, citing previous rulings enforcing the strict separation of church and state. Justice Breyer, who generally joins Ginsberg, Souter and Stevens in opposition to the majority’s more conservative rulings, abandoned his usual post and cast his lot with Justices Scalia, Thomas, O’Connor, Kennedy and Rehnquist.
For more on the issues surrounding the Milford case, see Amanda Ripley's story, "Saving the 7-Year-Olds."