Alan Keyes wrote a r…
Alan Keyes wrote a rather lengthy article today regarding how the 1st, 10th and 14th amendments say with regard to Judge Moore’s 10 Commandments display. Boiling things down to main (and perhaps, too simplistic) points, I believe this is what he’s saying:

  • The 1st Amendment prohibits Congress from doing anything regarding an establishment of religion. Therefore, the federal government cannot do anything in this regard, including prohibit religious expression of any sort, even by state judges.
  • The 10th Amendment gives powers to the States and the people those not given to the feds. Therefore, the power to make (or not make) laws respecting an establishment of religion (a power specifically denied to the feds) is within the rights of the States or the people.
  • The 14th Amendment does not transfer the Establishment Clause onto the States, because this amendment affects only “the privileges, immunities, legal rights and equal legal status of individual citizens and persons”. Instead, it shelters States and the people from any law respecting an establishment of religion as mentioned in the 1st Amendment.

    Additionally, Ambassador Keyes says, “Now, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as it applies the Bill of Rights to the states, lays an obligation upon state legislatures, officers and officials to refrain from actions that deprive the people of their rights. With respect to the First Amendment, therefore, it becomes their positive obligation to resist federal encroachments that take away the right of the people to decide how their state governments deal with matters of religion.”

  • He distinguishes between the rights of individuals (e.g. to vote) and the rights of the people (e.g. to elect representatives) and makes the case that freedom of religion is a right of the people. Thus religious expression is not just an individual right, but one that the (collective) people are allowed to express.
  • A choice of religious establishment is inevitable (since official indifference to religion is essentially establishing atheism), but this choice may not be made by the federal government according to the 1st Amendment. States, however, may, and since we have free movement between states, the religious pluralism we have in this country can be geographically expressed, while at the same time this does not happen at a national level (one size trying to fit all).
  • Therefore, when federal judges force the issue of acknowledging religion or not (as in the Moore case), they are outside their constitutional boundaries. This is a state issue.

I’m not a Constitutional scholar at all, and this is, as I said, a rather long article (and I’m not doing it justice). However, this is well worth reading regardless of where you stand on this issue.

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