Protecting The First Amendment

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

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.

The amendment was put in place to protect free speech and to prevent the government from forming a national church such as the Church of England. It was to protect Americans’ right to worship freely. Separation of church and state appeared in a letter from Thomas Jefferson after the Constitution was adopted and was not part of the Constitution.

On Friday, The Daily Caller posted an article about a recent court case involving religious universities.

The article reports:

An Oregon federal district court ruled Thursday that students are allowed to use federal aid to attend religious universities that operate according to their religious beliefs.

The case Hunter v. the U.S. Department of Education (DOED) was initially filed in March 2021 after 40 LGBTQ former and current students, who had applied to multiple religious schools, sought to amend Title IX’s provision allowing religious universities to discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and receive federal funding, according to the opinion. A judge ruled late Thursday to dismiss the case, effectively upholding the right of religious schools to practice their faith and obtain federal funding.

In the opinion, Judge Ann Aiken stated in the opinion that Congress had allowed for a limited exemption for religious institutions if they can prove that it is a religious organization that operates under “religious tenets.” She further explained that after reviewing the claims presented, the plaintiff’s case did not have standing based on the merits.

The article concludes:

During the lawsuit, a judge allowed three Christian colleges, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), to join as co-defendants and argue the necessity of Title IX’s religious exemption, according to an ADF press release.  Ryan Tucker, ADF senior counsel, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he was “very grateful” for the court’s decision.

“The government shouldn’t strip students of their financial aid just because they attend a school with widely held religious beliefs, and this case impacts everybody,” Tucker stated. “People of every faith would have to fall in line with government orthodoxy or suffer severe penalties according to the plaintiffs and what they were seeking, so the short version is religious students deserve the same access to financial aid as every other student.”

The DOED and attorneys for Hunter did not respond to DCNF’s request for comment.

Unfortunately, government money always comes with strings attached.

Our Justice System Has Turned Political

On Sunday, The American Thinker reported the following:

One of the most visible signs of our federal government’s corruption is the treatment being meted out to the January 6 prisoners, who have been deprived of their express and inherent rights under the Constitution, one of which is the right to an impartial judge. Dustin Thompson, however, was not accorded that right, as Judge Reggie Walton explicitly showed his political bias and hostility to Thompson. Walton should have recused himself before the trial. With the trial over, at the very least, the judgment should be reversed. Ideally, Walton would be removed from the bench and disbarred.

The Bill of Rights describes rights inherent in the individual; they are not “gifts” from the government. All Americans enjoy them automatically and the government may override these rights only by showing an overwhelming need to do so.

When it comes to the January 6 martyrs, however, the federal government under Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland has deprived these martyrs of multiple rights. Specifically:

    • the First Amendment (most of the defendants were peaceably assembling because the police let them into the Capitol),
    • the Fifth Amendment (for they have been deprived of life, liberty, and property for over a year without due process),
    • the Sixth Amendment (they’ve been deprived of speedy trials and the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations against them), and
    • the Eighth Amendment (being denied bail is tantamount to impermissible excessive bail).

This is a disgrace. The January 6th prisoners are political prisoners in what is supposed to be a free country.

The article concludes:

The worst thing, though, was Judge Walton, who insulted Thompson in front of the jury for daring to support a president of whom Walton disapproved:

As the defense played Trump’s speech before the jury, he spoke words of disdain for President Trump and Rudy Giuliani. He did not stop.

“Anyone who follows Trump is weak-minded. Thompson is a flight risk,” Walton continued, as Thompson was shackled and taken from the courtroom.

Judge Walton, “Trump is a charlatan who caused an insurgency. He is tearing America apart. That’s the reason why our country is falling apart. I am proud of the jury for doing this.”

In 35 years as a lawyer, almost all in the leftist San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve never seen a judge show this type of bias in front of a jury, and I have seen some pretty horrible judges over the years. Walton should be disbarred. That won’t happen but his disgraceful, indecent, unprofessional conduct certainly justifies a reversal and dismissal on appeal. 

What has happened to our judicial system?

The First Amendment Under Attack

Yesterday WND posted an article about California Governor Newsom’s lockdown of churches during the coronavirus.

The article reports:

Just as California Gov. Gavin Newsom was being ordered to pay $1.35 million for the legal fees of a church whose members sued him over his coronavirus-related lockdown orders, another fight has erupted over the same problem.

…The case that just was settled was brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Harvest Rock Church of Pasadena, whose leaders were “threatened with daily criminal charges” for staying open and claiming constitutional protection for their actions.

The case went to the Supreme Court where the justices decided 6-3 that the church could allow larger crowds.

The other, and continuing, fight concerns Santa Clara’s war against Calvary Chapel San Jose.

Most recently, a decision denied the county’s demand that it be allowed to see the church’s financial information.

Now both sides have submitted a letter to a judge hearing the case asking for guidance on the looming fight.

Santa Clara County is insisting on access to “Calvary’s sources of revenue, loans, and budgets, claiming these requests are relevant to determine how much Calvary ‘profited’ during the pandemic,” according to a statement from Advocates for Faith & Freedom, which is working on the case.

The article notes:

The county already had sent “two threatening letters” to the church’s bank, which “coerced the bank to temporarily sever the relationship.”

“The first letter informed the bank that Pastor (Mike) McClure had been held in contempt of court and that he and the church were facing fines and sanctions of over $1 million. The second letter was to inform the bank that Santa Clara County Superior Court had set a contempt hearing and that the county would seek further fines and sanctions against the church. The letters made no mention of an appeals process, that the church was challenging the constitutionality of the fines, or the recent Supreme Court decisions vindicating California churches,” the legal team explained.

The article concludes:

The church charges that the county’s goal is to assess “excessive and burdensome fines” against the church.

“The county falsely equates a church to a commercial enterprise, revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of a church’s distinct purpose and unique legal protections,” the letter said. “Unlike a business, churches do not function to earn a profit.”

The church has not claimed it lacks funds to pay the county’s fines; it alleges the fines “are altogether illegal or, at best, the amount of the fines is excessive considering the nature of the offense and the fact that it was the county, not the Calvary, that broke the law.”

The county claims the church “profited” during the pandemic and so its revenue is pertinent to “the fines.”

Unfortunately the taxpayers of California will be the ones who are hurt by this action. They will pay the legal fees for the county. The county (or the state) has no business looking into the finances of a church. If a private citizen wants to do that, I suspect they could–most churches are fairly transparent about their finances. However, it is not a county or state matter.

Fighting The First Amendment

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about Congressional Democrats putting pressure on cable networks to stop carrying conservative news sources.

The article reports:

The attempt by several House Democrats to pressure television carriers to deplatform certain news organizations could trigger a lawsuit, law professor Alan Dershowitz said Saturday.

“When the First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, it’s been interpreted to mean, take no action, it doesn’t have to be law. The First Amendment applies to presidents to governors to mayors to anybody who can abridge the freedom of speech. And I think these letters abridge the freedom of speech,” Dershowitz said during an appearance on Newsmax TV.

Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) sent a dozen letters to 12 different carriers this week urging them to deplatform or otherwise take action against Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News for allegedly spreading misleading information about the Jan. 6 Capitol breach and the COVID-19 pandemic.

They pointedly asked the carriers if they were planning on carrying the networks “both now and beyond any contract renewal date.”

…They sent letters to AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Charter Communications, Dish Network, Cox Communications, Altice USA, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Hulu.

The letters were sent in advance of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing titled “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.”

Eshoo told the hearing that the First Amendment “prohibits Congress from enacting laws abridging the freedom of speech, and I’m an ardent supporter of it.

“It does not, however, stop us from examining the public health and democratic implications of misinformation,” she added.

The article concludes:

Lawmakers heard from Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Media at Columbia University, who claimed that Newsmax and One America News “showed themselves willing to continue to repeat false narratives about the legitimacy of the election result.”

They also listened to Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, who called the deplatforming push similar to the “Red Scare” seen during the Cold War, when anyone suspected of being communist sympathizers were targeted.

Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) criticized the letters as an attack on the First Amendment.

“Anyone who values free speech and a free press should be alarmed by these actions today,” she said. “It’s an attack on the First Amendment when public officials use their power to coerce private companies to censor and silence viewpoints they don’t agree with.”

This is frightening. The First Amendment protects free speech. There is no scenario that gives Congress the right to control what the American people are able to hear.