”Living Document” Tortured — To Death
By Jack Kinsella
Liberals are fond of referring to the US Constitution as a ”living document” presumably because, like a living person, if it is tortured long enough, you can make it say whatever you want it to. In this last session, however, it appears that the Constitution has been tortured to death.
That is to say, it has been so tortured by its captors in Supreme Court chambers that its contents have been rendered meaningless. The Constitution is much like the standard of truth in America — it means whatever a particular agenda wants it to mean.
In a single session, the Supreme Court has stripped Americans of some of their most basic rights, including those formerly guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments.
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that; “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.”
The Supremes have interpreted the first part of the 1st Amendment as follows: “No one remotely connected to any branch of government shall be permitted the free exercise of religion, unless it is an obscure, unpopular or dangerous religion. The religious rights of the minority are exempted, while the religious rights of the majority are to be determined on a case-by-case basis.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to forbid two county courthouses in Kentucky from posting the Ten Commandments where the public might see them, the president of something called the ‘American Atheists Society’ triumpantly announced a ‘victory’ for the something less than ten percent of Americans who self-identify as atheists.
Meanwhile, those who are adherents to the religion of the vast majority of Americans (at least 76% of Americans, according to the CIA World Factbook) were defeated based on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of “Congress” as ANY entity receiving government funds from ANY source, federal, state, county or municipal.
The Supreme Court interpreted the phrase ‘establishment of a religion’ to mean the ‘the recognition of the existence of a Christian religion’ and ‘prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ as meaning, ‘the prohibition of the free exercise thereof.’
Moreover, in its wisdom, the Supreme Court has decided that it (not Congress) has the right to determine religious doctrine, determining that the Ten Commandments are CHRISTIAN symbols — the fact that they are the foundation of Jewish Law as given through Moses to the Israelites notwithstanding.
As a consequence, the Ten Commandments are illegal if they are ‘too religious’ but they are perfectly legal if they are surrounded by a preponderance (and indeterminate number) of other religious or non-religious monuments.
The Supremes said the two county courthouses in Kentucky couldn’t post their framed copies of the Decalogue, but the State of Texas was allowed to keep its monument because it was one monument among many.
“How many other monuments must accompany the Decalogue?” “Ummm, more than they had in Kentucky?”
“How many is that?” “Ummm, as many as they got in Texas.”
“Why is that?” “Because Texas didn’t just have Christian monuments.”
“When did the Ten Commandments become ‘Christian’ monuments?” “Uh, what time is it now?”
“Who gave you the authority to determine religious doctrine?” “The Supreme Court.”
“Heyyyy, aren’t YOU the Supreme Court?” “Exactly!”
So, what exactly does the ‘establishment clause’ mean this week? It means that it is legal for the United States government to order special sensitivity training to ensure the Koran is handled with due reverence.
But it is illegal for any governmental entity at any level to possess a Bible on public property unless one is desecrating it as part of a Constitutionally-protected form of ‘free speech’.
It is illegal for any public school system to permit children to pray, but it is legal for the United States government to operate an Islamic call to prayer five times per day in a federal prison facility.
It is illegal for government officials to refer to the Bible as the Word of God, but it is legal for the President of the United States to pronounce the Koran a ‘holy’ book.
It is illegal for government officials to promote any one religion, unless one is referring to Islam as ‘a great religion’ as Secretary of State Condi Rice is prone to do in every speech where the subject comes up.
It is also illegal for Christians to peacefully assemble to protest a gay rights parade, since the right to peaceable assembly is denied Christians under hate speech laws, as evidenced by the arrests last year in Philadelphia that put 11 Christians at risk of serving 20 years in prison.
It is legal for gays to denounce Christians as ‘right wing bigots’ but it is illegal for Christians to say that homosexuality is an aberrant lifestyle.
It is legal for abortion rights supporters to hustle women into clinics to have an abortion, but it is illegal for anti-abortion protesters to come within 100 feet of an abortion clinic.
The Supremes have also translated the Fourth Amendment into modern English, where we are shocked to discover it doesn’t mean anything like what it sounds like it means.
The 4th Amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
What it REALLY means is that we are guaranteed the right to be secure in our houses, papers and effects — unless somebody with more money than we have wants them.
The Supremes ruled that the right of municipalities to seize someone’s home and property and turn it over to a private, commercial development concern, regardless of the wishes of the owner, does NOT violate the Fourth Amendment.
The case arose in depressed New London, Conn., where pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in 1998 agreed to build a $270 million global research facility.
It was near a neighborhood called Fort Trumball, and to make Pfizer happier, the New London City Council launched a redevelopment plan for 90 acres of Fort Trumball: conference center, hotels, offices, condos, etc.
Among those unwilling to sell was Susette Kelo, who was joined by six other Fort Trumball homeowners. They argued in state court that taking property from one private owner to transfer it to another was not a “public use.”
The Supremes disagreed. But wait! There’s more! In case there is some kind of misintepretation of what it means to be ‘secure in their houses’ as not meaning the land they stand on, we have the Fifth Amendment, which says, ” nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The Supreme Court redefined ‘public use’ as land used by a giant private drug company. And it redefined ‘just compensation’ to mean what the one paying the compensation deems to be ‘just’.
The Court ruled the landowner doesn’t have anything to say about it. And if the landowner doesn’t think the compensation is just and doesn’t want to sell, the private concern can just take it anyway.
The Supremes also struck down the 4th and 5th Amendment guarantees against unreasonable searches and self-incrimination, ruling that internet users who share files can be tracked down by record companies who can read the contents of their computers and use that information to press charges against those who trade music or movie files online.
William McGrath, director for the Center for Intellectual Property Law at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, predicted that average music listeners will find it “harder to get this kind of software for file sharing,” and he warned that the music and movie industries will be gunning for file-sharers. “They have their ways.”
The 2nd Amendment was also re-trashed during this session. The 2nd Amendment USED to guarantee that; “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Supremes ruled that citizens do not have a constitutional right to police enforcement of court orders protecting them from abusers. In the case before the Court, a woman sued because police failed to enforce a court protection order that would have prevented her estranged husband from killing her three children.
The Supremes threw out her lawsuit — making a mockery of previous decisions that justified violating the 2nd Amendment by outlawing gun possession on the principle that the state provides armed police protection, making private gun ownership for self-protection unnecessary.
Then we get to the Tenth Amendment, which states; “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Unless ‘the people’ want to freely exercise their religion, keep property somebody richer wants, share property that belongs to them (such as music purchased by them) or assemble peaceably near an abortion clinic or a gay rights parade.
Nothing in the Constitution denies the rights of States to regulate those issues or expressly delegates them to the United States.
Congress has passed no law concerning the Ten Commandments, for example. And religious worship, gun ownership, private property rights and rights against illegal searches of private computer files are already REMOVED from federal jurisdiction by the amendments specifically exempting them.
Finally, there is the Eleventh Amendment, which deals exclusively with the rights of the Supreme Court itself. The Supremes REALLY hate THIS one:
“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”
The Eleventh Amendment says the Supremes don’t have any jurisdiction over the decorations chosen by county courthouses in Kentucky, the right of a woman to sue a police department for failing to do its job, or legal decisions concerning the internet, which is not in a state, or a country or a foreign state, but is in cyberspace, which is nowhere at all.
The Constitution USED to be a living document. But nothing can survive the torture the Constitution has been subjected to. May it rest in peace.
And may God have mercy on America’s soul.
Originally published June 28, 2005.