What is really fascinating about the BILL OF RIGHTS, and how it is interpreted, is the omission of wording within the Article itself and corresponding text within the body of the U.S. Constitution, that have a direct baring on how specific Rights should be legally defined, and the protections that they offer the American Citizen.
These pick and chose tactics are not just something political candidates do to gain support, but can be misused by those who should know better.
Case in point: Here is one quote taken from a recent speech made by Supreme Court Justice ANTON SCALIA;
“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion."
Judge Scalia should know better, but let us see what the 1st Amendment actually says;
"CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES."
Why have I quoted the entire passage? BECAUSE THE ENTIRETY OF THE AMENDMENT USES TERMINOLOGY THAT IS UNIVERSAL IN NATURE, NOT CONDITIONAL. In other words;
All forms of RELIGION, SPEECH, PRESS, ASSEMBLY OR GRIEVANCES MUST BE PROTECTED, AND NO PART OF ANY CAN BE SANCTIONED AS PUBLIC POLICY OR, YOU HAVE "ESTABLISHED" OR "CREATED" AN ENDORSEMENT THAT ONE FORM OF RELIGION, SPEECH ETC., IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANOTHER.
PUT ANOTHER WAY; FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SPEECH, THE PRESS, PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY, OR REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES ARE ABSOLUTES. IN NO CASE CAN THEY BE RESTRICTED OR PROMOTED. FOR ONCE THAT IS DONE, THEY ARE NO LONGER "RIGHTS", BUT HAVE BECOME "PRIVILEGES."
Yes, such things must be defined and limits placed, for you cannot use Religion, Speech,The Press etc, to do anything you want. These restrictions are of the HOW, WHEN AND WHERE VARIETY, THEY CANNOT BE USED TO SUPPRESS OR DENY RIGHTS OTHER CITIZENS HAVE.
So no, government cannot favor religion, over anything else. That is not its' job, which is: PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE PRIVATE CITIZEN, BY NOT MAKING THESE RIGHTS SUBJECT TO CHANGE BY PUBLIC POLICY.
In part 6 we will again address more of Justice Scalias recent comments, and remind him and his supporters of ARTICLE 6 OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.
End of PT 5.