Two proposed amendments

Pretty much what I’d expect from the editors of :

From yesterday’s editorial:

Its gun laws are among the most lenient, allowing even a disturbed man like Mr. Loughner to buy a pistol and carry it concealed without a special permit. That was before the Tucson rampage. Now, having seen first hand the horror of political violence, Arizona should lead the nation in quieting the voices of intolerance, demanding an end to the temptations of bloodshed, and imposing sensible controls on its instruments.

Yet, earlier in the editorial, the editors noted that Representative Gabrielle Giffords was the one who read the text of the First Amendment on the House floor, noting that the right to assemble was included in that. The respect for the First Amendment is strong among the editors of the Times, except, of course, when it comes to speech they don’t like, such as speech by corporations.

And the distaste of the editors for the Second Amendment is even more palpable.

There was, of course, Washington Post staff writer Ezra Klein and his famous statement that we couldn’t really understand the Constitution because it is over 100 years old:

Actually, it seems that the Constitution is pretty easy to understand. Oh, some spellings in English have changed — chuse is now choose — but it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the very plain English in which the Constitution was written

And looking at the first two amendments, the ones the editors of the Times don’t seem to like, is looking at some very simple English.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What, I have to ask, is so difficult to understand about the provision that “Congress shall make no law . . . ?” The First Amendment lists six things, and says, very simply, that Congress shall make no law restricting those things.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What part of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is so difficult to understand? Does “shall not be infringed” have some meaning other than what it says?

I have mentioned this before, but will do so again: if some of our friends on the left think that the actual words of the First and Second Amendments are so outmoded that they just don’t work very well for our 21st century society, why are there never any serious proposals to change them?

Those amendments exist precisely because of the concerns of the original thirteen states, that the power of the government being created by the Constitution was overly broad, and needed to be limited. Several of the states forwarded appeals for several amendments, specifically a Bill of Rights, to protect the people from the power of the federal government. The Framers had included an amendment process, and the First Congress did as the states ratifying the Constitution requested: they amended the Constitution.

So, I shall endeavor to help our friends on the left, with two proposed constitutional amendments:

Amendment XXVIII

  • Section 1: The First Amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.
  • Section 2: Freedom of speech, publication and broadcasting is guaranteed, save that speech which incites hatred, animosity or violence based on race, ethnicity, non-Christian religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identification may be prohibited.
  • Section 3: The free exercise of religion is guaranteed, save that no individual expression of religious faith may be professed in public. No religious belief which would discriminate against any person based on race, ethnicity, non-Christian religion, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identification is protected by this amendment, or may be protected by any statute of any level of government.
  • Section 4: Neither the United States nor any political subdivision therein may recognize, promote or protect any form of religious institution, belief or opinion. The Congress and the states shall have the power to enforce this provision through appropriate legislation.
  • Section 5: (a) The freedom of speech applies solely to individuals. No company, corporation or other organization, save those which exist as representatives of working people, or certified journalistic sources may claim the right to unrestricted speech under the provisions of Section 2, nor may any organization other than a registered campaign organization or political party, engage in any speech or spend any money in support of or opposition to any political candidate.
    (b) No individual member of any organization, save those which exist as representatives of working people, or certified journalistic sources, may claim individual status to circumvent the provisions of Section 5 (a) unless certified by the Federal Election Commission.
  • Section 6: The Congress may enact any legislation required to enforce the provisions of this Amendment.

Of course, it’s more than just our First Amendment which just can’t be intended to apply to us today!

Amendment XXIX

  • Section 1: The Second Amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.
  • Section 2: (a) Private ownership of operable firearms is hereby prohibited. The Congress may allow individual, registered collectors to own and possess registered antique firearms, if they are in a permanently disabled condition.
    (b): Neither the government of the United States nor any of the governing subdivisions therein are required to pay compensation for firearms confiscated and destroyed under the provisions of Section 2 (a).
  • Section 3: The manufacture, possession, purchase or sale of operable firearms of any type is prohibited within the United States, save for those registered companies manufacturing firearms for the Armed Forces of the United States, or authorized federal, state and local law enforcement agencies certified by the Department of Justice.
  • Section 4: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this amendment through the passage of appropriate legislation.

Perhaps you think that this is a long-winded form of satire, but I assure you, it is not. When I read what so many of our friends on the left have written, in so many places, it seems to me that what I have proposed as amendments to our Constitution pretty much fall right in line with what they really want, but seem unable to say.

It seems to me that it is time for them to be honest about things. The editors of The New York Times cannot claim to support our constitutional rights and then turn right around and try to twist or redefine or simply ignore the specific, written provisions of the Constitution to satisfy their policy preferences. Having the courage of their convictions ought to mean standing up for what they believe, honestly and forthrightly.

49 Comments

  1. Since when has honesty and forthrightness ever been the forte of the weasely word-twisting left?

  2. liberal facism at its finest. jonah goldberg is proven right every day.

    “I have mentioned this before, but will do so again: if some of our friends on the left think that the actual words of the First and Second Amendments are so outmoded that they just don’t work very well for our 21st century society, why are there never any serious proposals to change them?”

    There are serious proposals to change them. Change in this fashion is rarely sweeping and overwhelming. Rather, it happens incrementally with the implicit approval of society. Look around. The Supreme Court just recently struck down Chicago’s gun ban, narrowly affirming Heller v US. Virginia vs. Sebelius will be a tremendous test on how the Constitution is interpreted, especially in view of the commerce clause found in article 1 section 8 (fingers crossed Hudson’s wisdom stands). Look at net neutrality. Just this week Casey proposed legislation to limit free speech. Hell, look at Europe passing laws restricting free speech*.

    This is why elections matter. This is why blogs like this matter a great deal to me.

    *”Hate” speech, while deplorable, is still a right.

  3. Yes jd, RIP Dick Winters, indeed. I doubt may guys here have had the honer to serve with a man of his leadership, valor, values and unwaivering moral compass.

  4. Actually, it seems that the Constitution is pretty easy to understand. Oh, some spellings in English have changed — chuse is now choose — but it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the very plain English in which the Constitution was written

    Uh-huh.

    So tell us, which part of

    “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.”

    allows for people to be locked up indefinitely if the government says they’re bad people, and which bit of

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    allows for prisoners to be tortured to death because the government thinks they’re bad people? Which bit of it allows the US President to assassinate any American citizen he desires?

    Perhaps you think that this is a long-winded form of satire, but I assure you, it is not. When I read what so many of our friends on the left have written, in so many places, it seems to me that what I have proposed as amendments to our Constitution pretty much fall right in line with what they really want, but seem unable to say.

    In other words, you just made it up. When we want you to speak for us, Dana, we will pay you – until then, you don’t get to write comments and pretend we said them.

    “It seems to me” means that whatever you wrote is worthless, because you are a wingnut weasel, and repeatedly demonstrate the inability to grasp simple reality.

    You’ve spent the last few years wiping your ass all over the Constitution, and now you want to posture as its defender?

  5. Oh, and it’s not necessary to repeal thr First Amendment:

    Amendment XXVII

    In all cases, the rights and privileges enumerated or implied in this Constitution apply to natural people. An incorporated society or organisation, or similiar entity, is not a person. Any application of the nominal attributes of personhood to such an incorporated society or organisation is for the benefit of the effective regulation of society, and is purely instrumental.

  6. The Constitutional scholar strikes again. Sorry Pho, the XXVII Amendment ( ratified May 7, 1992) states:

    “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators or Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

    Don’t know where you got the above nonsense from, perhaps your Google finger is fucked up.

  7. I really hope you aren’t referring to the 27th amendment to the constitution.

    “When we want you to speak for us, Dana, we will pay you – until then, you don’t get to write comments and pretend we said them.”

    When i want you to speak for me, i will tell you. until then, don’t ever assume your comments represent “We”. Unless, of course, you are Gollum. And that’s totally cool.

    Further, the author is voicing an opinion. On a blog. Hence the “it seems to me”. Stop taking liberties with what is written on this blog to voice your own displeasure with the US. Go write your own blog.

    If you are really so horrified with the prisoners of war in Gitmo and the illusions of torture, I suggest you go take it up with obama. He’s in charge right now.

  8. Also Pho: ” When we want you to speak for us, Dana, we will pay you – until then, you don’t get to write comments and pretend we said them.” There is no We here. You are not an American therefore, our Constitution is none of your business. And if we have a policy of “torturing prisoners to death” I assume Gaby’s would be assassin will be dead by tomorrow. If not, we await your apology.

  9. Dana, you are now a “wingnut weasel” who “wipes his ass on the Constitution”? And Pho wonders why blogs like The Constitution Club censor him. It’s not because they disagree with his views, it’s because he is a narcissistic, rude, beligerant, hostile ass hole.

  10. When i want you to speak for me, i will tell you

    You’re not a liberal. Therefore I wasn’t speaking for you. Therefore go forth, multiply and expire.

  11. Oh, and it’s not necessary to repeal thr First Amendment:

    Amendment XXVII

    In all cases, the rights and privileges enumerated or implied in this Constitution apply to natural people. An incorporated society or organisation, or similiar entity, is not a person. Any application of the nominal attributes of personhood to such an incorporated society or organisation is for the benefit of the effective regulation of society, and is purely instrumental.

    I wonder — is this 27th Amendment part of the Constitution that Thomas Jefferson wrote? LOL!
    Because in this universe, the 27th Amendment says:

    No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

    Our American constitutional “scholar” strikes again …!!

    LMFAO!!! :-D

  12. Dana, you are now a “wingnut weasel” who “wipes his ass on the Constitution”?

    Nah – he got that distinction when he decided to become an apologist for the US torturing prisoners to death – so he’s been wiping his ass with the Constitution for quite a while.

  13. Nah – he got that distinction when he decided to become an apologist for the US torturing prisoners to death – so he’s been wiping his ass with the Constitution for quite a while.

    Uh huh. Let’s continue to learn about our Constitution … from someone who hasn’t the slightest clue who authored it and what’s in it.

  14. There is no one on this blog who is an apologist for the US torturing prisoners to death. But everyone on this blog realized that prisoners have died under interrogation in every nation on the planet. It happens, get over it. As long as it is not the policy of those responsible for the interrogation it is just not the policy. Nothing is perfect (sorry, except of course you Pho).

  15. “Oh, and it’s not necessary to repeal thr First Amendment:”

    Dana never stated it ws, did he?

    I suggest you put your idea in your own constitution, not ours. Again, ours is not your business.

  16. “I just used Dana’s numbering above.”

    I would have figured a genius librarian scholar like yourself would have noted the numerical typo. I guess we found out what you suck at (beside relationships), EDITING.

  17. When I read what so many of our friends on the left have written

    Sorry, Dana, but they are not our friends on the left. They are our enemies on the left, more like our fiends on the left. They hate our guts, so let’s just say so. They are evil, and want our country destroyed.

  18. In other words, you just made it up. When we want you to speak for us, Dana, we will pay you – until then, you don’t get to write comments and pretend we said them.

    “It seems to me” means that whatever you wrote is worthless, because you are a wingnut weasel, and repeatedly demonstrate the inability to grasp simple reality.

    You’ve spent the last few years wiping your ass all over the Constitution, and now you want to posture as its defender?

    This from someone who supports the death by torture of innocent unborn babies by having their brains sucked out while they are still alive.

  19. “Oh, and it’s not necessary to repeal thr First Amendment:”

    Dana never stated it ws, did he?

    Amendment XXVII

    * Section 1: The First Amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.

    There is no one on this blog who is an apologist for the US torturing prisoners to death.

    Bullshit.

  20. Phoe, that’s why President Bush, and President Obama after him, have been holding these prisoners of (irregular) war outside of the United States, where our laws and Constitution do not operate. If we brought the Guantanamo prisoners into the United States, we’d either have to charge them with a crime under state or federal law, or declare them to be prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. At that point, they can be held until the war against the Islamists is over.

    Actually, the second option is what I have said before ought to be done. The prisoners at Guantanamo no longer have any intelligence value, so declaring them to be POWs doesn’t hurt us in any way, and makes the legal points simpler.

  21. The Phoenician wrote:

    Oh, and it’s not necessary to repeal thr First Amendment:

    Amendment XXVII

    In all cases, the rights and privileges enumerated or implied in this Constitution apply to natural people. An incorporated society or organisation, or similiar entity, is not a person. Any application of the nominal attributes of personhood to such an incorporated society or organisation is for the benefit of the effective regulation of society, and is purely instrumental.

    Well, the first problem I see with that is that we already have a 27th Amendment:

    No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

    :)

    However, the First Amendment, as it is written, does not say that the freedoms of speech, religion and assembly are limited to biological persons; it states that Congress shall make no law abridging those rights, regardless of to whom they apply.

  22. The Phoenician wrote:

    I just used Dana’s numbering above.

    Idiot.

    Alas! The Phoenician is correct. I meant to make it XXVIII, because I already knew that there was a XXVII Amendment, but made a typographical error. :( I have now corrected it.

  23. In reading through this thread this morning, I observe the following:

    #1: Dana elegantly (but wrongly, in my view) makes the case for an absolutist view of our Constitution, as if our Constitution is a religion. This is like a Catholic not using condoms, or not eating meat on Friday’s, or not attending a wedding in a synagogue. You know what I mean?

    #2: A viscous attack on the messenger. Why cannot we be questioned (rightfully, in my view) on certain constitutional provisions that we routinely violate without question, irrespective of the nationality of the messenger?

    #3: A regular participant who would make a statement like this:

    “Sorry, Dana, but they are not our friends on the left. They are our enemies on the left, more like [than?] our fiends on the left. They hate our guts, so let’s just say so. They are evil, and want our country destroyed.”

    Especially at a time like this, comparable in some ways to 9/11 (an attack by a terrorist, this one American grown), we need to do some introspection to first get our own lives and ideas in order as individuals, and then to address our nation’s dysfunctions; otherwise, in my view, we will not turn ourselves around morally, spiritually, or economically.

    We are in serious trouble, folks, and this thread supplies ample evidence of our pending demise as a vibrant and competitive culture.

  24. Perry wrote:

    Dana elegantly (but wrongly, in my view) makes the case for an absolutist view of our Constitution, as if our Constitution is a religion. This is like a Catholic not using condoms, or not eating meat on Friday’s, or not attending a wedding in a synagogue. You know what I mean?

    What part of “Congress shall make no law” and “shall not be infringed” do you see as written in anything other than absolutist language? And were you not disappointed when the Supreme Court, rightly, read the First Amendment as it is actually written in the Citizens United case?

    What I have done is to take the various arguments of my friends on the left and attempted to craft replacements for the First and Second Amendments, because they are written in absolutist terms, and give them the meaning that so many people think that they ought to have.

    To me, that’s much more honest than saying that the First Amendment is not meant to be absolutist, when it certainly is written in absolutist terms. If you don’t like that absolutist language, our Constitution provides the proper remedy, the amendment process.

  25. #1: Dana elegantly (but wrongly, in my view) makes the case for an absolutist view of our Constitution, as if our Constitution is a religion.

    No, but it is our founding document, and the highest law in the land. It was written, for the most part, in very straightforward language so that following generations would know exactly what it says. Dana is right, the words “Congress shall make no law” mean exactly what they say, and the meaning is as clear as it can be.

  26. #3: A regular participant who would make a statement like this:

    “Sorry, Dana, but they are not our friends on the left. They are our enemies on the left, more like [than?] our fiends on the left. They hate our guts, so let’s just say so. They are evil, and want our country destroyed.”

    Especially at a time like this, comparable in some ways to 9/11 (an attack by a terrorist, this one American grown), we need to do some introspection to first get our own lives and ideas in order as individuals, and then to address our nation’s dysfunctions; otherwise, in my view, we will not turn ourselves around morally, spiritually, or economically.

    I wasn’t referring to liberals like you, Perry, when I made that comment. You seem to be a fairly reasonable and decent person. No, when I refer to “The Left” I mean people like Pho, who is always nasty and insulting and whose sole purpose in this venue seems to be to tear other people down. People like that are not our friends, even though Dana will say so, presumably out of politeness.

  27. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    What part of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” is so difficult to understand? Does “shall not be infringed” have some meaning other than what it says? >dp

    +++++++++++++++++

    Hi all — I read the thread, and have a couple questions which I didn’t see addressed above.

    – Can we all agree that Giffords’ shooter is a mentally-ill person? And, subsequent to that, he should not have been sold either guns or ammo? Finally, may we agree generally that killing Congress-persons is bad for the country?

    Assuming yes and yes and yes … then is there some reasonable way to retain the 2nd as the Supremes view it currently, AND keep guns out of the hands of crazy people? Serious question here, please; how do you keep guns out of the hands of those whom we already agreed should not have them?

    – the framer’s intent in the 2nd is not in argument — they wanted citizens to have the means to violently obstruct the government under some undefined state of duress. So … is there anybody here who believes our current gun statutes are sufficient to satisfy that intent? Isn’t the 2nd already [and long since] irrelevant to its stated intent?

    Needless to say, I think the Supremes got it wrong at their last touch; we already have various well-regulated citizen militias, and nobody wants to take away their guns. At the other extreme, the little old lady in AZ who has a loaded gun in her purse is not in any sense carrying it to serve the 2nd amendment — let’s be honest.

    *** side view: is anybody here really surprised that nobody in the crowd used their own gun to subdue the shooter? How is this a useful right?

  28. BurninBush asked:

    then is there some reasonable way to retain the 2nd as the Supremes view it currently, AND keep guns out of the hands of crazy people? Serious question here, please; how do you keep guns out of the hands of those whom we already agreed should not have them?

    First, they have to be identified, and identified in some way which will stand legal scrutiny. I can’t just call up the cops and say, “You know, that BurninBush guy is whacko,” and have that be sufficient reason for your rights to be restricted.

    Jared Loughner had no felony record, and no mental illness that was identified and recognized by legal authorities. The Army had turned him down for enlistment, but last I heard the reason was still subject to the Privacy Act, so that couldn’t count.

    Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, had mental problems, too, but they weren’t recorded in any fashion which would have subjected him to legal restrictions. The step from “he’s crazy” to “the law recognizes him as crazy” is a big step.

    Isn’t the 2nd already [and long since] irrelevant to its stated intent?

    If it is, then why are there no serious proposals to amend the Constitution to eliminate it? That was the whole point of the posting.

    And, of course, everyone here knows that if a congressman submitted what I proposed as a constitutional amendment, it would never even make it out of the Judiciary Committee. If by some strange happenstance it did make it out of committee, it would never gain a 2/3 majority in the House or the Senate to ever make it to the point at which it was submitted to the states for ratification.

  29. Here’s the thing, Dana. You and I both have a bit of the constitutional absolutist in us, as Perry would say. I don’t think this is a bad thing. But we have to understand that constitutional absolutism would lead to the following:

    - The elimination of “In God we trust” from our money and “under God” from the Pledge (clear violations of the Establishment Clause)
    - Trials for all terrorism suspects (Fourth Amendment applies to even nasty, organized, politically motivated criminals)
    - The cessation of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, absent a declaration of war by Congress
    - The acceptance of a whole slew of unenumerated rights pursuant to the Ninth Amendment
    - The elimination of both affirmative action programs and actively discriminatory practices (including denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples) by all levels of government pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
    - The elimination of all campaign finance regulations (the logical outcome of the First Amendment)
    - Cutbacks in the enforcement of the War on Drugs – including the curtailment of asset forfeiture practices and no-knock searches – that would render laws against drug use all but unenforceable

    Now I wouldn’t really cry much if any of these things came to pass. But do you think most people are willing to accept these outcomes, all of which are results of simply reading the text as it is written and applying it to current law in the simplest way possible? As much bluster as the Right puts out there about constitutional absolutism, we don’t live in a society that actually wants it, at least not in any real sense.

  30. The elimination of “In God we trust” from our money and “under God” from the Pledge (clear violations of the Establishment Clause)

    That requires ignoring the part of the First Amendment that is very often ignored (the abridgement thereof).

    Trials for all terrorism suspects (Fourth Amendment applies to even nasty, organized, politically motivated criminals)

    Act of war, not criminality.

    The elimination of both affirmative action programs

    Agreed.

    actively discriminatory practices (including denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples) by all levels of government pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

    Sodomy is a life choice, not a “race”, gender, or religion.

    The elimination of all campaign finance regulations (the logical outcome of the First Amendment)

    Agreed.

    Cutbacks in the enforcement of the War on Drugs – including the curtailment of asset forfeiture practices and no-knock searches – that would render laws against drug use all but unenforceable

    That’s a load of hooey.

  31. Phoe, that’s why President Bush, and President Obama after him, have been holding these prisoners of (irregular) war outside of the United States, where our laws and Constitution do not operate.

    So you believe the US army personnel holding them should be charged with kidnapping and illegal imprisonment under, say, Cuban law? You believe that Castro can make laws applying to Guantanamo Bay? If a Cuban policeman arrived at the gate with a warrant ordering that the 174 remaining prisoners be released under Cuban law, would the US army comply?

    This is, of course, bullshit and sophistry, a way to evade legal responsibility which doesn’t even pass the laugh test. It was dismissed by your own Supreme Court in _Boumediene v. Bush_.

    Why am I not surprised to see the biggest weasel on the blog trotting it out in bad faith yet again?

  32. That requires ignoring the part of the First Amendment that is very often ignored (the abridgement thereof).

    The government doesn’t have the right to free exercise of religion. The government cannot endorse religious belief, period. You can add “under God” yourself if you want, but the government can’t endorse you doing so (or prevent you from doing so). And there’s no reasonable definition of free exercise that includes the necessity of government endorsement, or “moral welfare” as I like to call it.

    Act of war, not criminality

    al-Qaeda and other quasi-affiliated cranks don’t get to be at war just because they claim they’re at war. They’re no more “warriors” than Timothy McVeigh, and al-Qaeda’s no more at war with us than is the Cosa Nostra.

    Sodomy is a life choice, not a “race”, gender, or religion.

    One, religion is a life choice. You choose to be Christian, right? Two, I don’t remember a part of the Fourteenth Amendment that exempts “life choices John Hitchcock doesn’t agree with” from the equal protection clause. It must be hiding with the part of the Fourteenth Amendment that Scalia invented in order to exempt women.

    That’s a load of hooey.

    Almost all current enforcement of drug laws involves illegal searches and seizures. There are no other ways to capture people who use drugs in the privacy of their own homes. Read Balko’s website for a lot of stories on this, as well as other unconstitutional “tough on crime” overreaches.

  33. Sodomy is a life choice, not a “race”, gender, or religion.

    Sodomy is something heterosexual and homosexual couples engage in. The US does not deny heterosexual couples the ability to marry if they engage in sodomy.

    So why are you using that as an excuse to deny gay couples the ability to marry, to meaningfully exercise their right to marriage?

  34. Jeff’s points:

    The elimination of “In God we trust” from our money and “under God” from the Pledge (clear violations of the Establishment Clause)

    I doubt it: the Establishment Clause bans the creation of an official state church. Even if you read it at its most expansive,

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

    I don’t see where mentioning God actually creates an establishment of a church. I have suggested, of course, that anyone displeased with “In God We Trust” on their money to send it all to me! :)

    But even if, by some idiotic decision, it was decided that we could not have “In God We Trust” on our currency and coin, we’d survive as a nation.

    Trials for all terrorism suspects (Fourth Amendment applies to even nasty, organized, politically motivated criminals)

    Actually, we do have those, for those actually apprehended in the United States. If you are referring to the prisoners at Guantanamo, they ought to be classified as prisoners of war; that would settle all of the legal problems.

    The cessation of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, absent a declaration of war by Congress

    The problem is that we are not at war with either Iraq or Afghanistan; we are fighting Islamist groups. There is nothing that states that the power of the commander-in-chief, also specified in the Constitution, is limited to the point where he cannot take military action against such foes.

    The acceptance of a whole slew of unenumerated rights pursuant to the Ninth Amendment

    Actually, we already do: the right to privacy being the primary example. But the claiming of an unenumerated right under the Ninth Amendment does not mean that something actually is a right. Some would claim that medical care, regardless of one’s ability — or willingness — to pay for it is a right; I certainly would not.

    The elimination of both affirmative action programs and actively discriminatory practices (including denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples) by all levels of government pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment

    I certainly agree concerning Affirmative Action. But when it comes to same-sex marriage, you have already introduced another discriminatory aspect, when you used the word “couples.” If the equal protection clause covers marriage, why should it be limited to couples; polygamy exists.

  35. More of Jeff’s points:

    The elimination of all campaign finance regulations (the logical outcome of the First Amendment)

    For the most part, yes. There is nothing specifically in the Constitution which prhhibits imposing the additional requirement on candidates to report campaign contributions and expenditures, but I do not see how independent expenditures can be limited.

    Cutbacks in the enforcement of the War on Drugs – including the curtailment of asset forfeiture practices and no-knock searches – that would render laws against drug use all but unenforceable

    I agree in the asset forfeiture part, but the Constitutional requirement to obtain a warrant does not mention anything about unannounced entry.

  36. The Phoenician wrote:

    Sodomy is something heterosexual and homosexual couples engage in. The US does not deny heterosexual couples the ability to marry if they engage in sodomy.

    So why are you using that as an excuse to deny gay couples the ability to marry, to meaningfully exercise their right to marriage?

    The law does not prohibit homosexual couples from living together and doing whatever they wish. Heterosexual marriage is a statement by the state that monogamous heterosexual relationships are the only ones favored by the government. I approve of that favoritism.

  37. The law does not prohibit homosexual couples from living together and doing whatever they wish. Heterosexual marriage is a statement by the state that monogamous heterosexual relationships are the only ones favored by the government.

    In other words, the government discriminates against other types of relationships? As teh recent court cases have asked – why?

    I approve of that favoritism.

    Of course you do. Just as people just like you historically have approved of blacks being considered 3/5s of a person, women being considered chattel, and Catholics being traitors.

  38. John – Christianity is indeed protected by the First Amendment, as is Judaism, Islam, etc. But it is not appropriate for government to endorse it, or any other religious point of view.

    Dana – the First Amendment states “AN establishment of religion,” not “THE establishment of A religion.” The latter suggests what you read the clause as – the former suggests that no religious belief can be given the force of government approval, including even the prosaic belief in God.

    The Taliban prisoners should be POWs, yes. But the terrorists? They’re criminals. You don’t get to be a warrior just because you say you’re one.

    The “unenumerated rights” thing was more aimed at right-wing jurists like Scalia who deny that they even exist. Determining what these rights are is a difficult task.

    And favoritism of any sort – even the kind you approve of – is exactly what the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits.

  39. Jeff, your comments on those portions of our Constitution are very clearly and articulately rendered, about the best I’ve ever encountered. Thank you for that!

    On the protections and endorsements meanings of the First Amendment, we have an ongoing issue here in my Sussex County, DE, regarding the insistence of fundamentalist Christians to open School Board meetings and County Council meetings with a Christian prayer, disregarding the protests of citizens citing the restrictions on government endorsement of religion in the First Amendment. There was a suit filed by a Jewish family on the School Board practice, plus their intimidation of two Jewish children, which the school district lost in Federal Court, of which the ACLU came in on the side of the plaintiff. Undisclosed damages were paid to the family. The school district threatened to appeal, but never have, now about three years later, due to tax payer backlash against the money being spent on defense by the school district. The County Council is ongoing, without legal action taken yet against it.

    These are examples of aggressive actions taken by fundamentalist Christians, where the Court ruled against their behavior, in one case, base on the interpretation of the First Amendment which you just articulated. The ACLU performed an important role in this case.

    On the County Council issue, the ACLU is aware, and just this week agreed to write a letter of protest to the County Council. We’ll see what their response will be. This is a touchy issue for the County Council, because the opening Christian prayer is a many generations old practice, and, there is a lot of support for it among the Sussex County traditionalists/fundamentalists. I suspect that it will take a successful lawsuit against them before their practice will be discontinued.

    In my view, a moment of silence, for silent prayers to be generated by those wishing to do so, should solve the problem. But it often does not!

  40. Of course you do. Just as people just like you historically have approved of blacks being considered 3/5s of a person

    I see our “professor of American history” is demonstrating his pathetic ignorance of teh Constitution once again. Tell us, oh professor, precisely why blacks were considered 3/5s of a person.

  41. In other words, the government discriminates against other types of relationships?

    Yes. Polygamy, for example.

  42. Interesting story, Perry. I will never understand the urge that makes anyone seek government endorsement for their religious faith, and that makes them feel persecuted when such endorsement is not received.

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