There are several issues relating to freedom that seem to be misunderstood.
Growth in Scope of Federal Power
I bet you didn’t know that a strict and specific limit on the powers of the Federal government is one of your civil rights. It’s true! The Bill of Rights, the original, most inviolable rights, are described in the first ten amendments to the constitution. The tenth amendment itself is a classic of brevity and clarity, a single sentence: “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.”
So what happened to that? IANAL, but I offer two suggestions. First, there’s an escape clause in the original text. The final ‘delegated power’ is this: “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof”. Second, one of the delegated powers (the list is in Article 1 Section 8) is regulating interstate commerce. And, interstate commerce eventually leads to the Corps of Engineers and EPA regulating your backyard duck pond.
Recently the Mayor of Chicago decided, according to a headline on MSN.com: “Chicago Mayor to only give black and brown reporters interviews”. Do you believe it? She later backed down of course, but this will live on forever as a memorial of progressive attitudes on race.
The 14th Amendment requires “equal protection of the laws”. Liberals in the 1960s decided to stretch the meaning of “equal protection” by passing civil rights legislation. There must have been suspicion that the notion of “equal” was changing, because during debate Senator Hubert Humphrey promised “If [anyone] can find in Title VII … any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there.” Apparently there was a concern in the Senate that this might open the door to quotas. (Monty Python and Lenny Bruce, we need you!)
That was 1964. Three examples show the current state of play. 1st, Harvard University was recently in court defending their practice of discriminating against Asian Americans in order to boost the number of African Americans in their student body. 2nd, racial quotas now exist explicitly as a matter of law for corporate boards in California. 3rd, an NFL coach who is ethnically Asian recently reported this dialog from a job interview:
“Chung said. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’ ”
The interviewer responded, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for.”
Regardless of the text of the 14th Amendment, today we deliberately use racial discrimination and quotas – supposedly to end discrimination.
The first amendment specifies “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments”.
Two examples. First: The Evergreen State College, which is a public institution in Washington State. According to an article by historian Allen Guelzo published by the web site City Journal:
“campus authorities at Evergreen State College refused to protect biology professor Bret Weinstein from physical threat by angry student activists after Weinstein, a self-avowed progressive in politics, questioned the wisdom of a day of racial “absence” that excluded white students from the Evergreen campus.”
Second, students at Middlebury College used violence to block an appearance by sociologist Charles Murray. The incident is given a pithy description in the title and subtitle of an article published by The Atlantic: “A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury – Liberals must defend the right of conservative students to invite speakers of their choice, even if they find their views abhorrent.”
Regardless of what the Constitution says, leftists violently oppose speech they disagree with.
Freedom of the Press
As noted earlier, the 1st amendment guarantees the peoples’ “right to … write, or to publish their sentiments”.
Two examples. First, the New York Times fired their editorial page editor after he published an editorial by US Senator Tom Cotton. Second, the uproar over Simon & Schuster announcing they will publish the biography of former Vice President Mike Pence.
Leftists feel free to vehemently oppose publication of ideas they disagree with.
Free Exercise of Religion
The very first clause in the very first amendment to the Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
But…forcing the devout to act in violation of their beliefs? Is that not a violation of “free exercise”? Little Sisters of the Poor is a Catholic order devoted to caring for elderly poor. They objected to being forced to offer health care plans that paid for contraceptives. They were forced into court over this issue. They recently won a Supreme Court case supporting their position.
What about forcing the devout to engage in speech that violates their beliefs? A Christian baker won his case over a request to bake a cake to celebrating a gay wedding. The same baker is now involved in a case involving a request for a cake to celebrate the anniversary of a gender transition.
What about unequal application of pandemic restrictions? Nevada restricted church services to a headcount of 50, while allowing casinos to operate at 50% capacity. California closed churches, while allowing strip clubs to open. New York limited attendance in churches to ten, while not applying the same limit to businesses. ABC News reported as follows: “Three Rockland County Jewish congregations are suing New York state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he engaged in a “streak of anti-Semitic discrimination” with a recent crackdown on religious gatherings”.
The import of free exercise of religion to the founders is symbolized by its position in the Bill of Rights – right up front: 1st clause in the 1st amendment.
How do progressives feel about the United States? Perhaps, if they really feel so out of tune with our heritage and freedoms, there’s some other place they’d feel more comfortable?
But of course, that’s not happening. Where would they go? I’m laughing. No better place to live! Look at the emigration/immigration numbers. So please, stop trying to restrict our rights to practice religion, to freedom of speech and the press, and our right to equal treatment under the law.