Judicial activists ignore the big picture
By Charles Bloomer
The Supreme Court's recent ruling that prohibits a display of the Ten Commandments in a Tennessee courtroom again focuses attention on the misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Constitution by the Court. The decision shows how activist judges (to use Mark Levin's label) actually ignore the words in the Constitution they want to ignore while basing decisions on specific words, phrases, or clauses. By narrowing the scope of their justification, activist judges can pick and choose words from the document, turning the Constitution into a smorgasbord on which they base their half-baked decisions.
In order to make an intelligent decision regarding religion in America and the Constitution's relationship to American religion, one must read the entire First Amendment as it relates to religion.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof;…"
There are three important parts of the amendment that relate to religion. First, "Congress shall make no law" applies to the entire amendment – religion, speech, press, peaceable assembly, and redress of grievances. That part is straightforward and clear.
Second, no law can be passed "respecting an establishment of religion". This is known as the "Establishment Clause" and identifies one of the rights that Congress may not take from us. Americans will not be subjected to a state imposed religion. Congress has never tried to establish a religion, nor has it ever tried to force any American into a particular religious belief, church, or other religious entity or philosophy. Somehow, the courts have concluded that any mention of religion or display of a religious in the public arena is a case of establishment of religion.
The third part is the one that the courts, including the majority on the Supreme Court, completely ignore. No law can be passed "prohibiting the free expression" of religion. Again, this is very clear and straightforward. No law can ever be passed that prevents any American from worshipping however, whenever, and wherever he or she chooses.
The courts, including the Supreme Court, have distorted the meaning of the First Amendment's religion protections beyond recognition. Since the mid-20th century, the courts have relied solely on the Establishment Clause, previous erroneous court rulings, and a casual, informal remark by Thomas Jefferson to justify their attacks on religion and their prohibitions of religious expression. Thomas Jefferson stated that he felt there should be a "wall of separation" between church and state. Jefferson was the only founding father to make such a statement, and the phrase "wall of separation" appears nowhere in the Constitution or any other founding document.
The First Amendment specifically prohibits Congress from passing laws that prohibit religion, etc., because Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution states "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." Since Congress would be the body that passes laws, the prohibition in the First Amendment was logically addressed to Congress. Note that no legislative powers were granted to the Executive Branch or the Judicial Branch. Neither the President nor any court can pass any legislation on any topic at any time. And Congress is limited by the Constitution in general and the Bill of Rights specifically.
A logical reading of the First Amendment would show that Congress specifically, and the government more broadly may not force us to accept a specific religion or force upon us a condition of non-religion (i.e. atheism). If we choose to practice religion, we are free to do so. If we choose not to accept or join any religion and deny the existence of God, a Creator, or other Supreme Being, we are free to do that also. The decision rests with individuals, not the government.
By relying so heavily on the Establishment Clause and ignoring the Free Exercise clause, all of the court rulings that prohibit the display of the Ten Commandments on public property, that prohibit prayer in schools, graduations, or other public meetings, that prohibit religious displays during holidays are misguided, wrong and, paradoxically, violations of Americans' Constitutional right to freely exercise their religions. Additionally, the courts have unconstitutionally taken upon themselves the power of legislation, a power the Constitution does not grant them.
Judicial activists have overstepped their bounds and are making a headlong dash toward judicial tyranny. This absurd focus on minutiae, on bits and pieces, causes the court to miss the big picture – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Blinded by their own arrogant activism, these judges care nothing for our Freedoms.
© 2005 Charles Bloomer. Charles Bloomer is a Contributing Editor for Enter Stage Right and the creator of Liberty Call U.S.
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