Perils of Electing Judges

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At the start of the MSNBC video clip available here, demagogue and barking loon Roy Moore calculates that his defiance of a court order requiring him to remove an unconstitutional ten commandments monument is costing Alabama taxpayers $25,000 a day. The idea, apparently, is that it's the fault of the federal courts for making him waste tax funds in an obviously doomed fight to preserve the establishment of religion in his courthouse.

Update: A commenter links to Volokh, who notes that Moore is actually talking about another case, which he sees as analogous to his own… as is presumably evident from the whole clip, as opposed to the MSNBC excerpt I saw. The total amount Moore's wasting therefore remains unclear, though even before legal fees are taken into account, there's that $5,000 per day fine.

NEXT: Good Afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto

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  1. Some yokel judge imposing his own religious beliefs on the populace would definitely be a problem but. . .

    The way our laws are already written, a judge cannot arbitrarily hand out sentences or judgments outside of a prescribed fashion. If a judge were to go tough on someone based on his own moral principals, that judge could be held accountable. If that judge is more lenient or harsh within the prescribed methods of how to mete whatever judgments, he is still not breaking the law.

    Moore hasn?t even done anything so heinous; he merely wants a religious display that is not prohibited by any federal law and is therefore fighting the plenary powers of our federal government and their judicial activists.

  2. https://www.reason.com/sullum/081503.shtml

    This is a reiteration supported by this very site.

    Judges do not have plenary power to just willy-nilly impose their religious beliefs on their courts. Moore’s fight is entirely symbolic, for both sides and unfortunately, neither side is acutally fighting for the rule of law or constitutional accuracy.

  3. If Moore had the Ten Commandments posted as part of a larger exhibit of famous codes of law throughout history (e.g. Magna Carta, Code of Hammurabi), or as part of a larger mural rife with symbolism that goes above and beyond religion (like in the US Supreme Court chamber, which I visited a few years ago) I’d have no objection whatsoever.

    And I’ll grant that my objection now is at least in part to the symbolism. Putting the 10 commandments in the antechamber of the court house won’t determine the outcome of any other case. But he’s using the courthouse for a completely religious purpose. We’re not talking Christmas trees here or whatever, we’re talking about turning the antechamber of his courtroom into a Judeo-Christian monument. Even the Alabama Constitution’s mention of God is (from my understanding) more ecumenical than that. (All religions make reference to God in some form or another, but the commandments are specifically Judeo-Christian.)

    My understanding has always been that the 14th amendment extends the Bill of Rights to restrict the actions of the states as well as the actions of Congress. (I have no interest in duking out that Constitutional battle with those who disagree because I’d be getting in over my head. It’s one thing to report what I understand, and another for this non-lawyer to try and refight Supreme Court cases.) I’d say that devoting a large public area of a courthouse to a Judeo-Christian monument runs afoul of the first amendment.

  4. thoreau,

    You and I agree then that neither side of this fight is being fought for the rule of law or constitutional accuacy. Moore is a religious zealot and the ACLU are just knee-jerk anti-Judeo-Christian.

    How erecting a Judeo-Christian monument in the foyer of a courthouse restricts anyone’s freedom of speech is beyond me however as well as how it differs in mere symbolism from the Supremes’ display in their own court room.

  5. The monument doesn’t restrict free speech. It violates the “respecting an establishment of religion” clause.

    And I don’t agree that the ACLU is anti-Judeo-Christian. I think the ACLU wants religion in the church house and the rule of law in the court house. The objection may be partly symbolic but it’s rooted in good principles. Moore is the fanatic with no regard for the rule of law.

  6. Ray,

    I’m being serious here, not trying to fan the flames. Do you really think it’s constitutionally permissable (under the 1st Amerndment, which prohibits “establishment of religion) to post the 10 Commandments in a courthouse, when the 1st commandment is “you shall have no other gods before me?” Isn’t that pretty clear establishment of religion?

  7. heathen,

    no flames fanned, thoreau and I are always civil with each other and we even partly agree here.

    Answers:

    No, I don’t see the existing religious symbolism as an establishment of religion. The recent flap at our Grand Canyon pitted the ACLU against a few plaques with some biblical Psalms but ignored the officially named sites in the canyon itself; a number of natural wonders named for Hindu gods and native American entities.

    Point being that, see the current Jacob Sullem article on the main page, the symbolism in no way affects the rule of law or anyone’s right or ability to exercise their speech or faith.

    Which is a nice segue to the ACLU’s knee jerk anti-Judeo-Christian antics. Arizona (my home) is full of native American iconography, for example and no one cares. Meanwhile, the ACLU hunts out Judeo-Chrst plaques and symbols with zeal.

    The argument goes two ways; that it’s just ancient native symbolism and not religion. This is wrong because it is someone’s religion (our freeways are festooned with nothing but this stuff). 2)It gets a bye because the religion is such a minority, so much for the rule of law.

  8. Here’s the real reason to not get worked up about this, quoting a previous commentor: “He was just a local judge in a small town until a dispute over a small display of the 10 Commandments in his courtroom made him a hero to a certain element”

  9. Ray-

    I do see your point. We do need to draw a line between naming a city San Diego or a rock Vishnu, and ordering all public school students to pray Hail Mary. (set aside for the moment the issue of whether there should be any public schools in the first place, since that analogy with public schools is ancillary to the main point)

    Where ever that line might be, you contend that the Alabama Chief Justice is on the lawful side of that line, and I contend that it’s on the wrong side, but I acknowledge that it isn’t the most pressing infringement of that line.

    What are some guidelines you would suggest for drawing that line, since it needs to be drawn SOMEWHERE?

  10. The guidelines are in the Constitution. I know the O’Reilys and Hannitys have trivialized the true value of this document, but, if we would actually follow it the way it was meant, this would be a very different place.

    The reason Moore is on the lawful side, despite his incorrect reason for being so, is because the separation of church and state is indeed a constitutional phantom. And not being able to illustrate where symbolism affects the application of law, on what grounds can the feds possibly come after Moore. (His rhetoric is silly but not illegal.)

  11. The judge posted the actual text of the commandments, Ray. If he had put up a monument of two tablets with roman numerals, there probably wouldn’t have been a stink. That is more apt comparison to the thunderbird designs on the highway signs.

  12. See, that’s the problem. The guidelines aren’t in the Constitution. A general principle is in the Constitution; specific rules of application are not. For me, the key question is whether (to paraphrase Lemon) the effect of the action, in context, is to give the impression that the state endorses or preferences one religion or sect over others. Naming a place “Shiva Canyon” or whatever doesn’t seem to do that. Erecting a 5,000lb monument displaying the core tenets of one religion in a public courthouse, in my book, rather clearly does. Indeed, that’s pretty evidently the reason that Moore and his supporters are so gung-ho to defend it: they want to affirm the connection between the state and their religion. It’s pretty hard to read his statements any other way.

  13. joe,

    But you’re missing it, really.

    The separation of church and state is not a constitutional reality and Moore’s symbolism doesn’t establish a religion nor restrict anyone else’s speech. So under what law do the Feds come a knocking?

    Those Thunderbirds and Kachinas are true religious symbols but they’re not hurting or affecting me. Those Hindu named monuments in the Canyon, ditto. And the symbols aren’t on signs. They’re huge, sculpted pieces into the structures themselves. 15 foot kachinas.

  14. Ray: You would have a coniption if you walked into a courthouse in Arizona and found a big stone monument of Vishnu waving its many arms at you. Admit it.

  15. Julian,

    “Indeed, that’s pretty evidently the reason that Moore and his supporters are so gung-ho to defend it: they want to affirm the connection between the state and their religion. It’s pretty hard to read his statements any other way.”

    And you’re making my point for me. It doesn’t matter what Moore says or what his real reasons are. The ACLU & Co. are so hung up on fighting zealots like Moore, because of his language and real purpose, that they have overlooked the fact that the separation of church and state is a farce.

    Good points have been made here in context to the first amendment but the ACLU is fighting this on the premise of church and state separation being a federal issue when it is not (at least not a valid one).

    So, and this leaves the ACLU’s stated premise, but does such symbolism establish a state religion or restrict anyone else’s speech? It is agreed that we are talking about degrees, the Grand Canyon or court houses, but that is where the rule of law comes in. Either it establishes a state religion or it doesn’t. If it is not infringing upon anyone’s rights, and it hasn’t been shown to, what law do the feds come under?

    And if anyone is afraid of an inquisition, refer to Sullum’s article today on the main page.

  16. Julian,

    That the Constitution provides the principle:

    This is our guideline and vindicates (I believe) my above post. The principle of the establishment of a state religion is the best argument that has been made here today.

    I think that the Feds would have to prove that such symbolism actually erects a state religion, if not, then so be it.

  17. “Those Thunderbirds and Kachinas are true religious symbols but they’re not hurting or affecting me. Those Hindu named monuments in the Canyon, ditto. And the symbols aren’t on signs. They’re huge, sculpted pieces into the structures themselves. 15 foot kachinas.”

    The difference, Ray, is that those items don’t tell you what you’re supposed to believe, and how you’re supposed to act, according to a certain religion. The text of the 10 Commandments does.

  18. joe,

    so you’re judging the content of the symbolism.

    If, once inside the courtroom, those dictums are enforced, you would have a good case.

    Otherwise you are only saying that you don’t agree with the symbolism. You have to be able to show where this symbolism affects my rights and your example doesn’t.

  19. OK, let’s say for the sake of argument that the 10 commandments in the foyer doesn’t constitute an establishment of religion. How far could we push before it would? Would anything short of a judge saying “screw the law, here’s what the Bible says” be enough?

    Suppose the judge held daily prayer services in the foyer. Suppose he replaced the elevator music with hymns. Suppose he put up signs everywhere proclaiming religious doctrines, not just the single display of the commandments. At what point could somebody say “Mr. Chief Justice, this is a court, not a church.”?

    But I do sympathize with the point that this clown wouldn’t be Chief Justice right now if nobody had paid any attention to his original display of the Commandments in a county courthouse. There are times when it’s best to ignore a clown. I’m not saying this is one of those times, but it’s a point we all need to keep in mind.

  20. I am not judging the content of the symbolism. The text tells you what to believe, and how to act. There’s nothing symbolic about that. If I see a Thuderbird statue, I say, “Nice statue.” If a see the words “You shall have no other gods besides me,” I think “I’m being told what to believe in,” which isn’t a big deal, except that I’m being told what my religious beliefs should by an agent of the government.

  21. From what I’ve read about Moore I’m no fan of him either, but this is an issue to be decided in Alabama not by the feds. But I’m sure if we were talking about medical marijuana laws here then suddenly it would be none of the federal government’s business and all would argue its for people in that state to decide.

  22. Matt, I don’t have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to have the government not tell me which religious tenets to believe? The Constitution (1st and 14th together) doesn’t ban state governments from endorsing certain religious beliefs?

  23. If the issue were a state saying “We won’t stop our citizens from making their own decisions on medicine” then everybody here would say the feds should stay out.

    But the issue is a state saying “We’re going to put up a religious monument in a courthouse”, and the feds are saying “Whoa, slow down. Religion belongs in churches, not in courthouses.” And most of us are concurring, since religion is a personal matter rather than a state matter.

  24. The term “unconstitutional” should always be put in quotes when used in reference to an application of the Bill of Rights to a state law under the “incorporation doctrine” of the Fourteenth Amendment. The public display of the Ten Commandments may well be unconstitutional, but if so it is under the provision of the Alabama Constitution analogous to the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment protects us from FEDERAL law, period. Outside of its delegated powers, the federal government is as foreign to Alabama as it is to France or England.

  25. Joe: Well since they have yet to pass a law declaring Christianity the official state religion, no I don’t see any reason for the feds to be involved. And last time I checked, the Supreme Court also had the 10 Commandments displayed. And unless they’ve recently changed, Congress opens each sesssion with a prayer. So maybe slectively applying this “establishment of religion” ideal isn’t the best idea. Let Alabamians decide what to do with the monument and with Judge Moore.

  26. There’s no reason to back down from the notion that we’re objecting to “mere” symbolism. I most assuredly am. Violating the free speech rights of others is sufficient to offend the First Amendment, but scarcely necessary. That’s why we have an establishment clause in addition to a free exercise clause. If establishment required that the state limit the free exercise of alternative belief systems, then the establishment clause would clearly be redundant. But it’s a long standing principle of jurisprudence that you don’t read clauses in such a way as to render them superfluous.

    Ray is premising his argument on the notion that there’s some very clear cut line as to what constitutes “establishment” — to wit, it appears, if they pass a law declaring Hinduism (or whatever) the official Alabama religion and make everyone pray to Vishnu, that’s establishment, and if it’s anything short of that, they’re free and clear. This strikes me as just self-evidently wrong, even if we might not want to go all the way to the other extreme and count every little ceremonial mention of God by a public official as establishment. To pervasively incorporate the, yes, symbols of one particular religious sect in the public sphere is tantamount to an establishment, even when legislators (or judges) aren’t foolish enough to use the word.

    Let me pose Ray this challenge: what precisely does he think the Establishment Clause prohibits that wouldn’t already be covered by the Speech and Free Exercise clauses? If it turns on whether or not a statute contains the word “establish” or “official state church,” I have to regard that interpretation as excessively pedantic and formalistic, equivalent to holding that a painting may be censored on the grounds that it is neither literal “speech” nor produced by a “press.”

  27. “Let me pose Ray this challenge: what precisely does he think the Establishment Clause prohibits that wouldn’t already be covered by the Speech and Free Exercise clauses?”

    Since I’m bored and waiting to go home, I’ll take a shot at this, even though I personally think they ought to be taken down. The state would have to pass laws requiring that people act in part according to the religion. So if for example they enacted the 10 commandments as law, they would still be allowing people to practice their religion, as long as they followed the ten commandments as well.

    This seems like a reasonable step between mandating or outlawing religion and having some religious symbolism count as establishment.

    One could also argue for the displaying ten commandments as an important historical legal document, however tied to Christian symbolism. I don’t think it’s possible to say that Christian morality is not already embedded in the law.

  28. I’ve heard Kevin Carson’s view of state/federal powers, and it always puzzles me. It seems like what he’s advocating is much closer to the Articles of Confederation than the USA as defined in the constitution. The first amendment does include the phrase “Congress shall make no law,” but in many other cases the Bill of Rights just says, “the right to X may not be infringed,” or words to that effect. What good is, say, the right to bear arms if it can be taken away by the state? And, on a related note, if the federal government can’t protect me from the state violating my rights, who can?
    Kevin Carson seems like one of those people who fetishizes state power and confuses it with federalism. Federalism refers to a balance between state and federal power. States have lots of powers on matters where the constitution is silent, but where there’s a conflict, the federal guv’mint wins.

  29. Oh, and JDM says people could be forced to follow the 10 Commandments but still allowed to practice their religion.
    WhaFUCK?
    The 10 Commandments aren’t just “thou shalt not murder/steal/etc. As someone mentioned earlier, they put one god above all others, prohibit idolatry, etc. How the hell could a Hindu follow his religion while obeying the 10 commandments? How could an atheist?

  30. If the federal judge had any sense, he would have hit Moore with that fine, not the state. It’s Moore’s personal decision to move those slabs in during the dead of night, it’s HIS personal decision to defy the federal order, so HE should be held PERSONALLY responsible, not the state.

  31. Yeah, I heard about this on NPR this morning. Grouchy old Barry Lynn (though I agree with him this time) from People for the Separation fo Church and State characterized Judge Moore’s invokation of the 10th Amendment as tantamount to soliciting the aid of the tooth fairy.

    While Moore’s argument is a losing one in today’s courts, it’s not nearly as bats as Lynn suggests. In fact, Justice Thomas embraced a version of it in his concurrance in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the supreme court case upholding school choice last year.

  32. All I have to say is: I am sooo embarrassed to be living in Montgomery, Alabama… and, no, I’m not married to my cousin

  33. The states complaining about the big bad feds is kind of analogous to individuals complaining about the big bad state. So from that standpoint, its difficult to be totally against Moore on this one.

  34. This idiot Moore should be tarred, feathered, drawn, quartered, boiled in oil, have his head put on a pike, and have his remains burnt at the goddamn stake.

  35. I am not personally bothered by public monuments of the Ten Commandments, but Roy Moore is an unbelievable idiot. Anything that gets sand in his vagina is OK by me.

  36. The government can’t fine the government. One branch has less money, another branch has more. In effect it’s a budget decision.

  37. Fortunately, the associate justices of the Alabama Supreme Court are meeting today to try to figure out how to overrule Moore’s defiance by invoking a law that allows them to overrule his administrative decision.

    As someone who lives in Birmingham and works in politics here, I can tell you that Moore and his supporters are just as scary and ignorant as you assume they are. He’s a very popular figure among the redneck element of the Republican Party, and he’s been strongly encouraged to run for governor. He was just a local judge in a small town until a dispute over a small display of the 10 Commandments in his courtroom made him a hero to a certain element, which led to his run for chief justice. (Tort reform is the issue which has driven the election of Supreme Court justices in Alabama over the last decade, and the business community wasn’t bothered by his nutty religious ideas since he supported them on their key issues.)

    This guy is in WAY over his head. He doesn’t have the experience or the judgment to handle what he’s dealing with. Other judges in the state — particularly at higher levels — are embarrassed. While there are some legitimate issues of federalism that might be involved, this is not the case I want to contest it with, because I don’t like either side. I just hope the rest of the state Supreme Court will end the standoff by removing the monument. (I’m sure the biggest thing they’re hesitant about is the potential political backlash when it’s used against them in the next election.)

  38. Judge Thompson properly has tried to put other Alabama state officials on the hook because Moore is just the type of psycho who — if the compliance decision was left just to him — would try to provoke a confrontation, begging for some kind of Armageddon-like showdown with federal law enforcement. By counting on the intervention of other Alabama officials, the federal court has acted wisely.

    While I appreciate Moore’s efforts on My behalf, I’d prefer if he just shut up and obeyed the rule of law, under which the First Amendment trumps his idiocy. What would Jesus do? Lemme tell you, He would not walk around looking and talking like an ass.

  39. Although I’m not a roy moore fan, I’m kind of excited about the prospect of returning to the practice of slavery! (Don’t worry…I’m planning to join a Southern Baptist church so my newly acquired heathens can learn about God’s love for all creatures.)

  40. I’m not sure of the situation here, but government officials are often protected as individuals against lawsuits.

  41. Ron, the federal government is fining a state government. This is not a departmental transfer.

  42. Tort reform is the issue which has driven the election of Supreme Court justices in Alabama over the last decade, and the business community wasn’t bothered by his nutty religious ideas since he supported them on their key issues.

    Actually, the business community is no fan of Moore, because Moore is, in fact, no fan of tort reform and a bitter opponent of arbitration. The business community supported Moore’s GOP rival, Harold See, in the primary. In the general election, the choice between Moore and his Democratic opponent, Sharon Yates, was a Hobson’s one for businesses.

  43. To Franklin Harris:

    Yes, I’m aware of the specifics of how the business community feels about Moore, since a major state bank is a client of mine at times, but I didn’t see any need to get into the specifics of Moore’s primary battle with Harold See. Although they think Moore is a nut, there was never any question about who to support when the choice was between him and Sharon Yates. My only real point was that people in the business community (specifically people such as the BCA) weren’t truly bothered by his religious ideas since he was far more likely to support their issues that Yates would have been. Now that you bring up Harold See, though, it’s a good time to point out that we could have had a really excellent and respected chief justice instead of this crackpot.

  44. I?m not really that concerned with the display itself one way or another but I am greatly bothered by the subjective application of federal power and the very distorted interpretations of the rule of law vis-?-vis our Constitution.

    Coming as nothing new to this bunch of well educated constitutional constructionists, the concept of ?separation of church and state? is not in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers that defined the Constitution or anywhere else of any import.

    So the hinge pin of this battle against religious displays in or on government buildings is that the federal government has the power to come and tell a state what to do on the matter when in reality it absolutely cannot.

    Much like Roe v. Wade, the federalist argument rests on a phantom constitution. Changing the actual Constitution not being a realistic proposal, the judicial activists have taken their show on the road in order to promote their phantom rule of law and the ?legal scholars? on the fringes of course jump on for the ride.

  45. It’s interesting how a strict construction of the Constitution always protects state officials who want to go around imposing their views on people and never protects individuals who don’t want state officials to meddle in things.

    Silly me, I thought the primary concern should always be protecting the rights of individuals and limiting the power of public officials at every level. I never realized it was about letting state officials do whatever they want.

  46. thoreau,

    Actually, I was rather ambiguous on my opinion on the 10 commandments issue itself.

    My point is that we cannot create constitutional rights or base our rule of law and fictious constitutional assertions, whatever the issue.

    This particular issue sound nice and fuzzy but what about other issues, what about the genuine rule of law?

    The Supreme Court has the commandments etched in stone above their own bench, “God” is in the Alabam Constitution and the separation of church and state is not in The Constitution.

    So we’re making this up as we go. Great, just stinking brilliant. This has always been the key to liberty and happiness. Just make it up as we go and we’ll see how we feel about it when we get there.

  47. “i dont understand why the governor cant just send in a crew to remove the plaques?”

    Because it’s a court, and is under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch, which is NOT a department within the executive. If the governor were to start taking over the operations of courthouses, there would be a constitutional crisis a lot more serious than Moore’s monument.

  48. This is one of those issues where, the incorporation issue aside, the changing meaning of a word over time has caused confusion. In the 18th century, an “established” church meant an official state church. The majority of the 13 original colonies had “established” a church, even if it was just generic “protestant Christianity,” as opposed to the Roman Catholic variety. The Founders wanted to prevent the Federal govt. from picking Episcopalians over Presbyterians over Congregationalists, etc.

    I like the effect of the change that has occurred: civil libertarians trying to effect neutrality by both the states and the Feds not only between sects, but between religion and unbelief. I am not so happy about how that was achieved, because if the lawyers can redefine a word in the Constitution in my favor, they can do it to my detriment, too.

    Moore does deserve the Salmon B. Chase award for being a minor tinpot idiot.

    Kevin

  49. Jean Bart,

    I spent several hundred hours poring over the Fourteenth Amendment debates in the Congressional Globe, the state party press, and extant state legislative debates, and I strongly disagree. The incorporation doctrine was a minority position. The most vociferous proponent of that view was Bingham, and he was mostly ignored by the rest. The majority understanding was that the XIV was drafted to remedy the Black Codes, which deprived blacks of civil rights possessed by whites. All it required was that the states not discriminate between blacks and whites in WHATEVER civil liberties they enforced, not that any PARTICULAR liberties be recognized.

    federalist,

    It was generally understood that the Bill of Rights was originally created to protect the people of the states from the new federal government. The republican governments in the states were the arenas in which civil liberties under state law were to be decided.

    Federalism that amounts to administrative autonomy under a sovereign nation is not federalism at all. If it means anything, it means that sovereign states delegated certain powers to a common government, and that those powers derive from the sovereignty of the separate peoples of the states.

    Once you admit the power of a central government to protect rights in violation of the meaning of the constitutional text, you have created a power that can rob you of your REAL rights as defined in that text.

    No matter how high up you go in appealing to a higher echelon of government against the internal affairs of a lower, at some point you will come to a decision that is final in the sense of not being appealable to a higher jurisdiction. And the issue will be decided at that level according to the internal rules of that polity, by human beings made of the same stuff as those at lower levels. There is no jurisdiction you can appeal to that is not made up of human beings prone to bigotry and lust for power. What if the U.S. government violates civil liberties? Do you appeal to the UN? Can you appeal from there to the United Federation of Planets?

    I would be very cautious in making the federal government the guarantor of my liberties. The Bill of Rights have had a very mediocre performance in their primary job of limiting the federal government. They failed to stop the Sedition Act, Lincoln’s unconstitutional usurpations, Woodrow Wilson’s police state, or the roundup of Japanese Americans in 1942. The Supreme Court’s reaction to power grabbing by wartime presidents has always been to bend over and spread ’em. The federal courts are much more willing to overturn state law than federal law, precisely because they are PART OF the federal government.

    I think we’d be a lot freer under the Articles of Confederation than we are now. The people of New England, at least, were doing a pretty good job of securing their liberties under state governments without the kind attentions of Hamilton, Washington, Marshall and their ilk. One of the central motives of the “better sort,” in backing the new Constitution, was to prevent anything like Shays’ Rebellion from happening again. After all, the first law after most revolutions is “no more revolutions.” The federal government’s value as a guarantor of liberty is pretty accurately indicated that within a decade it has suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion and passed the Sedition Act.

  50. Looking at the comments of the drafters’ of the of the 14th Amendment, that is its congressional history, in order to find the intent of the Congress at the time of its drafting, it becomes very clear that they agreed that it would incorporate the Bill of Rights as they pertain to individual liberty. In fact, there was much discussion of how it would incorporate not only the 1st Amendment, but the 2nd as well. 🙂

  51. Oops, forgot to sign the damned thing.

  52. i dont understand why the governor cant just send in a crew to remove the plaques?

  53. “As someone mentioned earlier, they put one god above all others, prohibit idolatry, etc. How the hell could a Hindu follow his religion while obeying the 10 commandments? How could an atheist?”

    Errr…. good point. Bad example. My point was that you could pass laws on the basis of religion – and it’s hard to say we haven’t – which stop short of establishment, but which could be covered by the establishment clause. Also, I don’t see how this is covered by the constitution, since no law has been passed.

    “The first amendment does include the phrase “Congress shall make no law,” but in many other cases the Bill of Rights just says, “the right to X may not be infringed,” or words to that effect.”

    Maybe their intent was to allow states and localities to ban certain speech – porn shops, etc. – establish religion, but not ban guns. That seems to me to be the plain language reading. I’m sure the constitution police will let me know.

    “i dont understand why the governor cant just send in a crew to remove the plaques?”

    He probably wants to get reelected.

  54. Moses,

    That seems like a uniquely Gnostic spin on the ten commandments. But that aside, number four is a fucking pain in the ass.

  55. WHICH ONE OF THESE DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH?

    1. I am the God within you.
    2. Respect yourself.
    3. Don’t worship anything external to yourself.
    4. Don’t curse.
    5. Take a break once a week.
    6. Respect your parents.
    7. Don’t commit murder.
    8. Be maritally faithful.
    9. Don’t steal.
    10. Don’t lie nor covet.

  56. Jean Bart,

    About what? Please be more specific with your crude, swinish insults. And please explain how you know that, rather than simply disagreeing with you over the interpretation of historical facts, I am knowingly stating an untruth.

  57. Kevin Carson,

    You are a liar.

  58. Please help. The government is prevented from establishing a religion, right? To me all this means is that they are prohibited from FAVORING one over the other, right?

  59. Glad to help, Canuck. I don’t know about your country, but in the First Amendment to our Constitution it say, “CONGRESS shall make no law establishing religion …” etc.

    It does not say anything about what the people of Alabama should or should not do.

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    The best solution against abortions is education, not snipers.

  62. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://psybnc-account.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/19/2004 11:39:02
    After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.

  63. EMAIL: nospam@nospampreteen-sex.info
    IP: 212.253.2.205
    URL: http://preteen-sex.info
    DATE: 05/19/2004 10:12:13
    The greatest administrators do not achieve production through constraints and limitations. They provide opportunities.

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