Saturday, September 25, 2004

Activism or Checks and Balances?

What is the Protect the Pledge Act?

It’s the Protect [extremists from having to admit that the words Under God in] the Pledge [of Allegiance are unconstitutional] Act. Here are a few excerpts from the right wing talking points:
The phrase "under God" is back in the spotlight, with an important bill that would immunize the Pledge of Allegiance from the tampering of activist federal judges expected to head to the full House for a vote this week.

The legislation, the Pledge Protection Act, was authored by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. It says no federal court — including the Supreme Court — can hear any claim that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Akin said the intent of H.R. 2028 is to rein in judicial tyrants who legislate from the bench—as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did in declaring "under God" unconstitutional in the Michael Newdow case.

"They are saying that children cannot say the Pledge of Allegiance," Akins explained. "That's a form of censorship of speech, and it's restricting free speech."

Congress has a right and an obligation, he added, to make sure that the branches of government do not overstep their authority as outlined in the Constitution.

First Paragraph: Break out the Antibiotics!
The phrase "under God" is back in the spotlight, with an important bill that would immunize the Pledge of Allegiance from the tampering of activist federal judges expected to head to the full House for a vote this week.

  • An Important Bill

  • This implies that this bill’s importance surpasses any bill not labeled “important.” The author wants you to filter out other bills – like those increasing medicare premiums by 17% or cutting rent payments for the working poor, which will force many families to live on the street just in time for winter (just like Jesus would do).

  • Immunize the Pledge of Allegiance from Tampering

  • This implies that the Pledge of Allegiance is besieged by a terrible disease (called tampering) and needs to be protected. It also implies that it would be harmful to return the pledge to its original form.

    Original form? Yep. Here’s the original text written by Francis Bellamy in August 1892:

    I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

    The word “to” was added in October of that year, before the word Republic. It remained that way until the Knights of Columbus shoe-horned in “under God” during the height of McCarthy hysteria in the 1950s.

  • Activist Federal Judges

  • The implication is that an "activist judge" is a judge with an agenda, seeking to impose his will on the country. If you support one of these people, or his decisions, you are not to be trusted, because you have an agenda. This frame also implies that the person calling the judge an activist has no agenda of their own.

    Unfortunately, these days, whenever a judge rules that some law promoted by the right wing is unconstitutional, the word activist takes wing - flying around the pundit circuit, floating through news rooms, and generally fluttering about in the media.

    Why? Because the right wants people to think that the ONLY reason a law was shot down is because the judge has a particular agenda. The right does not want to hear that they can't have their way, so they lash out at the judge. Like a typical two-year-old, a they throw a tantrum anytime they’re told “no.”

Second Paragraph: Congress Shall Make No Law
The legislation, the Pledge Protection Act, was authored by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo. It says no federal court — including the Supreme Court — can hear any claim that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment of the Constitution.

  • Pledge Protection Act

  • This implies that someone is out to harm the Pledge of Allegiance, and a hero is needed to save it. If you support this bill, you will be a hero. Anyone who opposes it must be a villain out to harm the pledge.

  • No federal court … can hear any claim that the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment of the Constitution

  • The role of judges is defined by the constitution and can only be changed by changing the constitution. No law passed by congress can do this. A judge’s role, according to the constitution, includes ALL laws, not just those for which congress gives its permission.

    From Article III of the Constitution
    The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; ...

    Think about it this way – if congress passed a law that gave all congresspersons the right to take any thing they wanted from any citizen, and prevented the courts from striking down that law simply by adding some text saying courts couldn’t rule on it, we’d be in pretty bad shape. The founders were very clever, though. They knew people like that existed, so they made the constitution protect itself from that kind of corruption.

    This law itself is unconstitutional and passing it is a waste of time and taxpayer money.

Paragraph 3: Tyranny!
Akin said the intent of H.R. 2028 is to rein in judicial tyrants who legislate from the bench—as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did in declaring "under God" unconstitutional in the Michael Newdow case.

  • Judicial Tyrant

  • This implies a cruel person wielding absolute power, unrestrained by any law or constitution.

    Such a person would have no interest in fairness. Such a judge would be incapable of good judgment. If you support this judge, or the decisions made by this judge, you are against reason, fairness, and freedom.

    We may have judicial tyrants in this country, but only a privileged few know for sure, because their rulings happen in the dark world of the secret courts instituted by the ABUSE A PATRIOT act. The court system is subject to the same Checks and Balances as the President and Congress. There is no absolute power in the hands of any judge in the non-secret courts. Thus, no judge in the public court system, can be a judicial tyrant.

  • Legislate from the Bench

  • When a judge makes a ruling that a law promoted by the right is unconstitutional, the right starts claiming that the judge is "legislating from the bench." The definition of legislating is to create or pass laws.

    When a judge "legislates from the bench," she is supposedly creating laws, something not allowed under our Constitution. According to the Constitution, only Congress can create laws.

    A judge cannot write or pass laws. A judge can, however, interpret laws and rule on their constitutionality. As matter of fact, that’s the judge’s job.

    So, if the constitution says that the judge's job is to interpret all laws under the constitution, is ruling about the constitutionality of a law "legislating from the bench"? Clearly, the answer is no. The judge is doing the job defined by the Constitution – even if the outcome of the ruling is that the law is cancelled or modified.

Paragraph the 4th: Hush Little Children
"They are saying that children cannot say the Pledge of Allegiance," Akins explained. "That's a form of censorship of speech, and it's restricting free speech."

  • Children Cannot Say the Pledge of Allegiance

  • [sound of squealing brakes] Hold it right there! This is an outright falsehood.

    If a court determines that the two words “under God’ in the pledge constitute government interfering in religion, by requiring people to publicly state their allegiance to a particular God, then those two words are unconstitutional. The rest of the pledge still stands.

    In that case, those two words would be removed from the official pledge, returning it to its original state. Children will still be free to pledge allegiance to their country.

    Christian children who cared could simply exercise their free speech rights by inserting those two words when they say the pledge.

    No one will be denied the right to say it.

5th Paragraph: Out of Bounds
Congress has a right and an obligation, he added, to make sure that the branches of government do not overstep their authority as outlined in the Constitution.

  • Do Not Overstep Their Authority

  • This implies that any judge ruling on the constitutionality of a law is doing something not allowed by the constitution, and Congress must rescue the American people from such evil judges.

    Remember: the judge’s role is interpreting ALL laws. A judge ruling on the constitutionality of a law is entirely within their authority as outlined in the Constitution.

    However, a legislator attempting to pass a law restricting a judge’s ability to interpret any law, is overstepping the legislator’s authority under the constitution.


The upshot is that the fundamentalist right knows that government interference in religion is unconstitutional. They are running scared, so they're desperately trying to head off the ruling they know is coming.

Fortunately for people of all other religions in this nation, their futile, and unconstitutional, attempt to fight the inevitable will turn out to be nothing more than a huge waste of taxpayer money.

1 Comments:

Blogger Candidate X said...

Another take on the whole "activist judges" talking point, takes us right be to Marbury v. Madison, which is perhaps the most important and powerful decision the Supreme Court has ever handed down. It justified (some would say created) the power of judicial review of laws by the courts.

What I find so infuriating about those who don't agree with marbury is their reliance on democracy to protect constituional principles and rights. Without the courts reviewing the constitutionality of the laws, where is the constitution? who protects it?

I would feel better about democracy protecting the constituion if people were better informed and actively participated in civil society. Unfortunately...

6:05 PM  

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