Civil Liberties

Eugene Volokh on the Ground Zero Mosque: "The legal issue is open and shut."


UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh explains why government officials cannot legally block the Ground Zero mosque:

The Free Exercise Clause means that the government may not discriminate against an entity because of its religious denomination. The Free Speech Clause means that the government generally may not discriminate an entity because of what it says or teaches (and that applies to discrimination against religious speakers as much as to discrimination against secular speakers). There are some exceptions to the latter principle, but none apply here.

This means that the government may not refuse a zoning permit to a group because it's Muslim, or Tea Party, or Socialist, or anti-gay-rights. It may not try to use landmarking law to bar the group from reconstructing a building, if the law is being used because of the group's message….

These are basic principles of American free speech law, and of American religious freedom law. They help protect all of us, liberal or conservative, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist. Carving out exceptions from them will jeopardize all of us. We shouldn't sacrifice these basic American principles — principles that help make America free and great, and distinguish it from most other countries — for the sake of symbolism.

Read the whole thing here. Click below to watch Volokh talk free speech and guns with