Does U.S. Constitution
Forbid 'Day Of Prayer'?
From: "Greg Tinkler"
To: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: September 20, 2001 3:05 AM
Hi, it's Greg Tinkler.
Although the First Amendment specifically states that "Congress shall make no law," it says nothing about the other branches. Supreme Court decisions aside, I personally don't feel that there is anything in the First Amendment keeping the President from proclaiming Nat'l Days of Prayer and the like.
However, the 10th Amendment is another story. It is perhaps the most stepped-on amendment we have. It basically says that any powers not specifically granted to a branch of government by the Constitution are reserved for either the States or the people. Hence, it technically isn't within Bush's authority to issue such proclamations. If anything, individual states should be haggling over that crap, but since state laws are superceded by federal laws the state legislatures would still be severely limited by the First Amendment.
That there are no punishments laid out for First Amendment or other Bill of Rights violations is telling (I think) of the mind set of our founders. I believe that they just assumed that everyone would have enough dignity (and respect for others) to obey the Bill of Rights, and that issues of fundamental rights violations would be the exception rather than the norm, which doesn't seem to be the case.
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Greg Tinkler"
Subject: Re: eml8825.htm
Date: September 20, 2001 4:47 AM
Okay, so you're saying that it's the Tenth Amendment which removes this from Bush's authority and hands it to the states. That makes sense in light of Jefferson's remark about the states.
I do not currently have access to the exact case, but it is my understanding that the Supreme Court ruled that when the First Amendment says "Congress" the states and their municipalities are included as being bound by this Amendment.
I'm also pretty sure that the courts are bound by the First Amendment because the First Amendment is how we have been able to slow down the practice of courts sentencing people to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
I do believe the states are also bound by the First Amendment because the various states that have been sued have been sued for breech of the United States Constution as well as their own state constitutions.
Meanwhile, I have drafted a note to Constitutional scholar Gene Garman (here's his URL)
asking for his opinion on all the above questions. Whatever the truth is, I want to know it (even if it specifically allows the President to do this -- which I doubt). When I get his response, I will link it to these two posts as well as send you a copy.
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