Why do Americans tolerate post-Constitutional behavior by the federal government? Is it because of ignorance, apathy or ambivalence?
I don’t know, and I don’t care, one way or the other. I’m going to talk about it anyway. First…to set the stage:
A Brief Constitutional Refresher:
The First Amendment prohibits the government from infringing on the people’s unalienable rights to freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and redress of grievances through petition.
The Constitution didn’t “give” Americans these unalienable rights, nor did the Declaration of Independence. Every human being who has ever lived possessed these rights from the moment they existed, endowed to them by their Creator. They are “pre-political” rights, meaning they existed before ANY AND ALL governments that have EVER formed, ANYWHERE.
The U.S. Government cannot legitimately take away unalienable rights, because our Constitution is the contract by which we consent to being governed. It would first need to be amended to remove the prohibitions of infringements listed in the first ten amendments – called the Bill of Rights. Amendments must pass a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, then be ratified by three-fourths of the states to reestablish the consent of the governed.
30 June 2014 Supreme Court Ruling:
Here is the first paragraph of this week’s majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito:
“We must decide in these cases whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)…permits the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that three closely held corporations provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners. We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling correctly distinguished between “denying access to contraception” (which womens’ reproductive rights activists would have you believe Hobby Lobby is guilty of), and simply declining to pay for insurance coverage for the type of contraceptive drugs known as “the morning-after pill.” Having to pay for health insurance premiums that cover this type of contraceptive drug violates the religious beliefs of the owners of privately-owned Hobby Lobby, because they feel it is a form of abortion.
Thus a reasonable argument can be made that government-mandated employer funding for religiously-objectionable insurance coverage is an infringement upon the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment. This does not mean Hobby Lobby’s owners are imposing their religious beliefs on the employees, because employer-paid insurance coverage is not an unalienable right. Besides, contraceptives are relatively inexpensive and can easily be made accessible to any American woman. Lack of insurance coverage of the cost is not a credible barrier.
What is RFRA?
In 1993, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed unanimously in the House, and nearly unanimously in the Senate (97-3). President Clinton signed it into law on 16 Nov 1993. Here is the heart of the RFRA text:
“Sec. 3. Free Exercise of Religion Protected.
(a) In General: Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b).
(b) Exception: Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person–
(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
It greatly saddens me that laws like RFRA and the 1976 Hyde Amendment must be passed to “restore” unalienable rights that were never supposed to be infringed in the first place. Further, it alarms me that this week’s Supreme Court case upheld RFRA by only a paper-thin 5-to-4 margin.
Erosion of Liberty is Happening Right Beneath Our Feet, Every Day
So where the hell do members of government even get the spark of an idea that they can erode the unalienable rights guaranteed by the very same Constitution they swore an oath to defend and uphold? How do these cracks of ethical erosion start? Well, actually, they are appearing constantly, deepened by the steady tide of Progressivism flowing across the political battlefield.
“Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—
(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and
(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.”
It’s a fact of modern life that it takes money to communicate one’s views effectively in our technological society in ways that will be heard more than 50 yards away. To regulate the flow of non-taxpayer money for elections is to infringe on political free speech. This post-Constitutional behavior defies the principle of individual liberty. And FYI, 43 Democrat Senators are co-sponsoring this proposed Constitutional amendment.
Progressivism is incompatible with the Constitution and its underlying principles of liberty. Pay attention, give a damn, and don’t consent to the Progressive elements of government pushing to erode your unalienable rights.
As one of my Facebook friends says almost daily, “Wake Up, America!”