This column addresses each weeks news from a Constitutional perspective.
The events mentioned are from the first week of January, 2016.
First Amendment. No better way to start than with the First Amendment. As I’ve said numerous times in the past, our present view of the First Amendment’s religious exercise protections were skewed beyond recognition by the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education opinion which erected this fictitious and infamous “wall of separation” between the two domains. The ACLU, AUSCS, FFRF and other atheist groups are fighting hard to both maintain that wall, and even to “thicken” it.
Comes now Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia to set the record straight. Speaking before an admittedly favorable audience, the jurist observed “there is ‘no place’ in the country’s constitutional traditions for the idea that the state must be neutral between religion and its absence.”
His remarks, expectedly, “ignited a firestorm,” with some groups calling for his impeachment or retirement, conveniently forgetting Justice Ginsberg’s officiating at a homosexual wedding before voting on Obergefell vs. Hodges. Of course, even a cursory examination into the history of the religion clause and “Jemmy” Madison’s defense of it, reveals Scalia’s remarks to be dead on, yet some people can never and will never be convinced.
2nd Amendment. Mixed news here. While Texans celebrated their new-found freedom to open carry, something we Virginians have enjoyed for a long time, here in Virginia we found Governor McAuffie trying his best to pay back Michael Bloomberg’s millions in campaign contributions by revoking the recognition of the concealed carry permits of 25 other states. This resulted in those states, in-turn, revoking their recognition of Virginia’s permits, making it nearly impossible for Virginians to legally carry their concealed weapons when leaving the state.
The lesson here is for the Virginia Assembly, which wrote a statute without considering how it might be interpreted and implemented in the hands of someone dead set to remove guns from the face of the planet (except for his bodyguards,’ naturally). With the upcoming Assembly session imminent we hope the Legislators will attempt to clarify the law to effectively overturn the Governor’s unilateral action. We hope. But since Republicans still lack a veto-proof majority in the Assembly I fear this is with us until the next Gubernatorial election.
Obama’s decision to enact stricter background check rules via Executive Order has some states, like Texas, saying “Molon labe.” Another boost for the 10th Amendment.
A three-judge panel in Richmond on Thursday finally announced their long-anticipated plan for redistricting, unabashedly stating that it will give Virginia’s blacks a chance to elect a black candidate in a second district instead of Bobby Scott’s Third District alone. Bobby Scott’s position remains secure; Randy Forbes, one of Congress’ most conservative members, must now scramble. Gerrymandering at its finest.
Property Rights. Every American should be talking with their Congressmen about the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), proposed by Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This rule, if Congress allows it to stand and be funded, will allow HUD to decide whether low-cost housing will be forced on your community to enhance “diversity.” If you like your neighbors just as they are, you have work to do.
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