Trashing the First Amendment

  • 20 September 2016
  • NormanL
Trashing the First Amendment

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has taken a new, and harrowing, view of the First Amendment. It seems the majority of the political appointees believe the right to worship is entirely at the mercy of the government:

"Although the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) limit the ability of government actors to impede individuals from practicing their religious beliefs," the report goes on, "religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws and policies must be weighed carefully and defined narrowly on a fact-specific basis."

Weighed carefully? That's an interesting choice of words. So how is a policy maker to know if the need for the religious exemption outweighs the need to protect people from, say, having a photographer refuse to work their wedding?

According to the report, the answer is: It almost never does.

The commission showed its hand by writing that the federal RFRA (which Bill Clinton signed to ensure Americans wouldn't be forced to violate their religious beliefs absent a compelling government interest and no less burdensome alternative) needs to be altered so that everyone understands that it "creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights...only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination." Likewise for the several-dozen state-based RFRAs that have been enacted over the years.

In other words, your right to not be subjected to laws that violate your beliefs should be treated as categorically less important than my right not to have anyone discriminate against me.

One might argue that the Civil Rights Commission was anti-religion. But that would mean they are anti-First Amendment, and no good liberal would be willing to publicly state they are anti-First Amendment, right?

Nope. Though the Commission has done us a favor with this blinkered opinion: it has stripped the mask off the left's determination to push people of faith to society's margins, and keep them there, under penalty of law.