Saturday, April 5, 2008
Currently Studying the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment to the US Constitution
.Just thought I'd note that. It's really astounding to see how the interpretation of those two clauses has evolved over the years, thereby setting precedents that we have to live with. (Actually we don't have to live with them into perpetuity, because of the "redress of grievances" clause, and the likely never-to-be-written "riot clause." And presently of course we do have to live with bad laws and bad interpretations* for now, since the executive branch is actively pursuing some laws as written and interpreted by the other branches.) It's equally astounding to consider the considerations and assumptions that the members of the supreme court turn to when laying down new precedents.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I understand that being human, its essentially impossible to be non-ideological, though the ideologies of the judges show through fairly clearly when one adds a critical eye to the bright light that gets shined on the procedures and decisions they make. By that, I mean that some start from the assumption that the founding fathers/parents of this country meant to honor freedom of conscience above all else, by creating this document. And others go so far as to start from the assumption that they meant only that the nation could not establish and endorse a religion, and that people were free to go to any religious house they choose.
Further, at this stage, a small and growing group of the justices on the supreme court believe that the laws of this country come first, rather than the freedom of conscience. If the courts are not protecting our freedom of conscience from the tyranny of the majority and from the tyranny of corrupt laws, then who??? The supreme court is a (if not THE) primary vehicle in which the nation's laws can be tried and found to be in error. Here, specifically, I am referring to the Employment Division vs. Smith case, but really, to the whole process. When a judgment is handed down that says, in effect, "Since what this religion is practicing is against the law, and the law was not written specifically to single out out that religion, that religious practice is still against the law. YET for these ideological people (who also happen to have ascended to the very seat of human justice in the US), there is no reason to assume that the government should have to prove why the law is required, or that there is no less constraining legislation that could more justly address the grievance.
In that case, the justices throw true liberty out the window, and are interested in a continuation of laws, putting written legislation and past interpretations above the inherent freedom of decision and action afforded to individuals. After all, as we join together out of a lawless "natural state" of cavepeople into social contracts where we recognize that the government has as one of its major roles that of determining the boundaries of freedom between rights of people against each other, and against the powers ceded to government in exchange for freedom from others' freedoms to. But when government goes bad, it forgets that its powers come from the people, and begins to define the freedoms with greater allowances to some parties than others, in effect breaking the contract with people whose views differ from the majority, thus violating their right to be free to express themselves as they please, as long as they are not imposing unduly on the freedom of expression of others. And yes, there is a line that must be determined there, and determining the line between the freedoms of two different entities is the purpose of courtly jurisprudence, but I would warrant with every fiber of my being that neither the lines being drawn by the the legislation, nor those practiced by the executive branch, nor those interpreted by the judicial branch -- none of those lines are drawn justly, with individuals' rights in the fore of consideration.
That's my thinking.
lyrics: "Clean up your shit, man, before I change my mind." -Beth Wood
colors: white and yellow
mood: studying hard, should be writing the above in a paper
chant/prayer/mantra: focus. focus. focus.
agape to all,
*just to clarify, while i am certainly critical of the government (as every true patriot should assiduously be), i think that for one to be critical and always partisan against the government is foolish. to me, being critical means to critique and examine something with open eyes, through as diverse a sequence of lenses as one can produce. then to discern the flavor of the thing (or to judge it, if you will).
the government is not all bad. there are good people within, there are bad people within, and there are people who exhibit both good and bad actions. the policies and laws are not all bad or good, nor are there interpretations. and those deciding how to carry out the laws are not all bad or good, but of course "teh george" does seem to be attempting to set a record for the former...
that's why having freedom for honest and open conversation/dialog/trialog/quadralog in our country/world is so important, and why i'm a media reform advocate. the minute a law or interpretation gets written, it starts to decay. if we can critically talk about it, our democracy survives and thrives. those who would hinder that are NOT interested in democracy. EOM.