Saturday, January 15, 2011

Past Year Shows Neither Left Nor Right Have Perfect Record on 1st Amendment

I largely agree with what Ann Althouse points out here. See "Back in the 1960s, who'd have imagined that a septuagenarian white sheriff from Arizona with a hostility to free speech would one day become a hero to the left?"

Looking at cases from Citizens United Supreme Court case , to a love of hate speech codes to the tragic situation involving the AZ speeches one gets a real sense the right is a better protector of the 1st amendment nowadays. I agree with that.

However it is not perfect. Lets review the First amendment:

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.

There is a huge BUT though as to the right . Three cases come to mind. First a good bit of the rights reaction to the NY Mosque is not one of it's finest moments as to the First amendment. The right was actively engaged in wanting GOVT officials to weigh in on where a House of Worship should be and in fact stop it. I found that troubling then and find that troubling now.

Two other cases that are perhaps related to the First in some ways and also implicate other Freedoms spelled out in the Constitution. That is the laws passed in Arizona and Oklahoma dealing with "Sharia" law. The Right not only did not look at Freedom of religious issues but pretty much did not consider the freedom to contract issues. In fact the law is so over broad that it really does not effects just Muslims but effects just ordinary business dealings of everyone!!

The conservatives of course are right that we should have a healthy skepticism of Government. What many of fellow conservatives fail to realize that just like the left they can cause damage when they fall for the hysteria.


Teresa said...

But, what some would consider hysteria may be a legitimate concern. If it was any other type of group - not a religious group - which attacked us on 9/11 and the individuals who want to have something built where plane parts were scattered on 9/11 believed in the same ideology or a similar enough ideology as those who killed 3000 innocents would there be such an outcry about rights? It isn't like there aren't any mosques in NYC, because there are over 100 mosques in New York City. Is there a Shinto Shrine on or near Pearl Harbor? The land by Ground Zero should be considered hallowed ground since body parts have been found there within the past 6 months or so. Plus, there are peoples' ashes and other remnants of them still around the 9/11 site. Those are the reasons that I think that the land should be government protected.

But, overall I do agree with your post.

James H said...

I understand the sentiment. The problem is that this area is full of other establishment(strip clubs , OTB betting etc)

I mean in essence if we wanted to make that whole area a National park we could have gone that route. I just don;t see how the Govt can come and use time and place requirements on something that is a House of Worship without running into the 1st and then one asks what is next

An precedent is established