WHAT IS THE STATUS OF VOTER ID in NORTH CAROLINA?

by Diane Rufino, October 27, 2022

THE RIGHT TO VOTE

At the time of the founding of our country, many groups, including white men who didn’t own any land, free blacks, and women, could not vote. Did that mean that women couldn’t vote or were denied the right to vote back then?  No. In many states and localities, they were allowed to vote; there just weren’t any legal guarantees.

Voting in not mandated. A person is not required to vote. It is optional. It is an INDIVIDUAL right, to be exercised by the individual citizen as he or she chooses. Not only is it a right, it’s actually one of the most critical and important duties that American citizens are tasked with. The most important institution that we have in this country is government – at the federal, state, and local levels. “A government of the People, by the People, and for the People” can only be responsibly and morally staffed when good people do their homework, are engaged and informed, ignore partisan politics and false narratives, and who vote conscientiously.

The right to vote does NOT belong to a political party.

Where is the Right to Vote mentioned?  The individual’s right to vote is not explicitly or expressly mentioned in the US Constitution. However, it is implied strongly in the following ways:

(1)  In the Declaration of Independence, adopted in July 1776.  The Declaration, in paragraph 2, reads: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…” 

In fact, Thomas Jefferson went on to write “Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies” and now is the time to break the political chains that force their allegiance to the government of Great Britain. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

The term “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is another way of saying that the People select the representatives who will represent and serve them in government. Select = Elect. Elect = Vote.

(2)  Our Founding Fathers established our country as a REPUBLIC, which means a form of government in which a state is ruled by representatives of the citizen body, elected by the People themselves. Sometimes people refer to it as a “Constitutional Republic” or a “Democratic Constitutional Republic” A republic, per se, is defined as “a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote.”  Being guided by the principles laid out in the Declaration, we understand that in order to be a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” citizens must vote to select representatives that will serve them in government.

(3)  There are several Constitutional amendments that address the right to vote, not expressly and outwardly declaring there is a right to vote, but by implying that since there is such a right, it cannot be denied to the particular community members identified (freed slaves and persons of color, women, and citizens of age 18 and over). These amendments include the Reconstruction era amendments (March 4, 1867 – March 1877) – the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments (abolished slavery, recognized freed slaves as American citizens with equal rights and privileges, and guaranteed blacks the right to vote, respectively). The 19th Amendment declared that women cannot be denied the right to vote and the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 years old.  [See Appendix for the text of each of these amendments)

The passage of these amendments reflects a shift in this country towards making voting a fundamental right of all citizens to not to be denied on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, or age. The United States was on its way to becoming a “more perfect union” when it finally abolished the evil and shameful institution of slavery in 1865 and continued to become more perfect when it recognized equal citizenship and equal rights for every individual, again regardless of gender, race, color, religion, or age.

(4)  The US Constitution, in Article I, Section 4 (“The Elections Clause”), recognizes “Elections” for representatives in the House of Representatives and for Senators in the second branch of Congress, and Article IV, Section 4 assures that the federal government will “guarantee to every State a Republican Form of Government and shall protect each of them against Invasion….”  Again, “Elections” imply that the representatives identified are to be ELECTED by the People. (a government by the People), which means that citizens, the American People, have the right to vote. And a “republican form of government” is one in which the people govern themselves through elections.

In summation, the right to vote is so fundamental that it doesn’t need to be mentioned expressly in the Constitution. It is automatically assumed by the form of government established – a “democratic and Constitutional Republic.” It is our birthright, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and is a founding government principle.

Harry Truman once said: “A vote is the best way of getting the kind of country and the kind of world you want.”

HISTORY of the ENLARGEMENT OF VOTING RIGHTS

The Civil War ended when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant, commanding General of the Union forces, at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Almost immediately, and as the first condition of readmitting the Southern States back into the Union, was to require them to adopt and ratify the 13th Amendment, which would abolish slavery. The 13th Amendment was ratified on December 8, 1865.

As we all can probably guess, it was the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln as an emergency war measure back in 1863, and which failed to free a single slave, which was the likely inspiration for the 13th Amendment. A war to subjugate the South and force them back into the Union had to have a more moral purpose – and that purpose became a fight to free slaves. I like to liken Lincoln’s war to a “save the Union” to a man who beats his wife in order to save their marriage.

With NO Southern States represented in the federal government at the time, the members of Congress adopted a proposal in January 1865, which would become the 13th Amendment. Texas and Florida would not ratify it initially but would do so when forced by the North. And Mississippi eventually ratified it in 1995, after first rejecting it in 1865.  Coercion is an absolute defense to “intent” so the question is: Did the Southern States legitimately and legally ratify the 14th Amendment?

The next issue was how to reabsorb the former Confederates back into the Union, something they were quite reluctant to do. After all, they were considered rebels and “insurrectionists” and trouble-makers. Of course, their representatives and Senators would have to be seated in Congress, something the Northern States were also reluctant to allow. The next condition would be for the former Confederate States to adopt the 14th Amendment which would recognize all former slaves and freed slaves as legitimate American citizens and recognize that they have equal rights and privileges. Remember, the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 declared that black people were never intended to be part of the American citizenry and therefore could not become citizens.

State legislatures in every former Confederate state, with the exception of Tennessee, at first refused to ratify it. (As such, Tennessee was therefore re-admitted to the Union at that point). This refusal by the former Confederate States led to the passage of the first Reconstruction Act in March 1867. The Reconstruction Act of 1867 outlined the terms for readmission to representation of rebel states. The bill divided the former Confederate states, except for Tennessee, into five military districts. Each military district was over-seen by a former Union general and each district denied former Confederates and Confederate sympathizers (ie, a huge percentage of the adult southern white population) the right to vote and the right and opportunity to participate in government. (They were seen as traitors). At the same time, freed slaves, which were almost entirely registered as Republicans, were greatly enfranchised.


This was one way the North tried to control and subjugate the Southern States by re-making the body politic of the South. As you can imagine, this is initially how and why race relations began to deteriorate.

Going back to the Reconstruction Act, additional conditions included: (i) Each state was required to write a new constitution, which needed to be approved by a majority of voters, including African Americans, in that state; (2) Each state was required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment (and the Thirteen, if they hadn’t already done so) to the Constitution. After meeting these criteria, the former Confederate states could gain full recognition and representation in Congress. President Andrew Johnson vetoed the Act claiming it was unconstitutional (later confirmed by the federal courts), but on March 2, 1867, Congress overrode the veto.

The 14th Amendment was passed by the Senate on June 8, 1866, and finally, it was ratified two years later, on July 9, 1868. Yet, Reconstruction continued until March 31, 1877, punishing the former Confederate States for daring to “rebel” and leave the union and establishing and reforming the body politic in those States to be more “in line” with the agenda of the North.


Reconstruction was an especially terrible and shameful time in our country’s history. It would be responsible for the segregation of blacks and whites and responsible for our unforgiveable Jim Crow era. We fought the stigmas of Reconstruction and then the stigmas of Jim Crow up until the 1960s, with the Civil Rights movement.

With Reconstruction ending, the Southern States enacted Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, passed at different periods in the Southern States and both of which were intended to establish and enforce racial discrimination and segregation, and especially to curtain and limit the power of Black votes (something the victorious North wanted/needed very badly). This was the unfortunate era of intense and shameful racial discrimination. Jim Crow is the name for the era of racial segregation of the South. [NOTE:  “Jim Crow” was a term that originated when a struggling actor, became famous for paining his face (black face) and playing the part of “Jim Crow,” an exaggerated, highly-stereotypical black character. By 1838, the term “Jim Crow” was being used as a general racial epithet for blacks].  

What the Jim Crow laws did in the South was to re-establish segregation, a 2-tier society, and slavery….  But in a different way.    

The so-called “Jim Crow era” lasted from the 1870’s up until the 1960’s with the Civil Rights protests led by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  Jim Crow laws, in the American South, re-established segregation and slavery but in a different form. In a way, they established the kind of America that US Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney wrote about in his infamous Dred Scott v. Sanford opinion (1857). That case arose when a slave, Dred Scott was taken from Missouri (a slave state) by his “master” to Illinois (a free state, which was in the Louisiana Territory at the time and where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of 1820). He then sued claiming that he became a free man once he was relocated to a “free state.” The Supreme Court disagreed. The Court held that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into the US from Africa and sold as slaves,” whether enslaved or free, could not be an American citizen and therefore did not have standing to sue in federal court. The United States never intended the country to include negroes among its citizenry. Because the Court lacked jurisdiction, Taney ultimately dismissed the case on procedural grounds. Chief Justice Taney further held that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was unconstitutional and prohibited Congress from freeing slaves within Federal territories. Finally, the Court ruled that slaves were property under the Fifth Amendment, and that any law that would deprive a slave owner of that property was unconstitutional.

Some of the ways and schemes to limit the participation of freed slaves in the electoral process include:

(a)  poll taxes – Poll taxes were required of citizens in order to vote. Alternatively, citizens were required to pay all back taxes before being permitted to vote. Every former Confederate state enacted such laws by 1904. Although these taxes of $1-$2 per year may seem small to us today, it was beyond the reach of many poor black and white sharecroppers, who rarely were able to deal in cash.

(b)  literacy tests – After the Civil War, many states enacted literacy tests as a voting requirement. The purpose was to exclude persons with minimal literacy, in particular, poor African Americans in the South, from voting. They were usually administered at the discretion of government officials in charge of voter registration.

(c)  violence (including property destruction and assassinations) – Violence was a principal means of direct disenfranchisement in the South before Redemption. In 1873, a band of whites murdered over 100 blacks who were assembled to defend Republican officeholders against attack in Colfax, Louisiana. Federal prosecutors indicted 3 of them under the Enforcement Act of 1870, which prohibited individuals from conspiring “to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise and enjoyment of any right or privilege granted or secured to him by the constitution or laws of the United States.”

(d)  fraud – Electoral fraud by ballot box stuffing, throwing out non-Democratic votes, or counting them for the Democrats even when cast for the opposition, was the norm in the Southern states before legal means of disenfranchisement were entrenched

(e)  restrictive and arbitrary registration practices – Southern states made registration difficult, by requiring frequent re-registration, long terms of residence in a district, registration at inconvenient times (e.g., planting season), provision of information unavailable to many blacks (e.g. street addresses, when black neighborhoods lacked street names and numbers), and so forth…. employing the same fraudulent schemes used by Democrats today. When blacks managed to qualify for the vote even under these measures, registrars would use their discretion to deny them the vote anyway.  

(f)  KKK intimidation – The Ku Klux Klan was a militant organization with its goal being to scare and intimidate blacks from voting. Their “playbook” included violence and property damage, burning crosses on personal property and lynching black men from trees.

(g)  lynching – White Americans, especially the KKK, used lynching to terrorize and control Black people in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Jim Crow laws and Black Codes established a segregated society and upheld racial hierarchy in Southern states and southern cities, and that era continues to be a stain on our nation’s history. In fact, the laws and codes were so effective that Hitler’s Nazi Party would use them as a model for their Anti-Semitic Laws (to segregate Jews out of their population),

When did the Jim Crow era end?  Some say it continued, at least on the books, even into the early 21st century in some states. For example, it took Georgia until 2005 to erase the last vestiges of the state’s post-Reconstruction era Jim Crow laws. Although the laws hadn’t been enforced for decades, the state Governor signed a set of bills to officially erase those laws, calling segregation “a tragic era in our past.”  But most agree that it ended with the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Brown represented a consolidation of cases whereby black parents sued the school boards of Topeka, Kansas, and school boards in Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and Washington DC over their system of racially segregated public schools, alleging that such segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case was of limited subject matter jurisdiction – it addressed the segregation policy only in the limited case of public education. The plaintiffs were denied relief in the lower courts based on the “Separate but Equal” doctrine established in the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The Supreme Court in that case concluded that “separate but equal” was all that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment required. It didn’t, in their opinion, require the actual physical intermingling of the races. [In other words, the Supreme Court upheld state-sponsored racial segregation]. The “separate but equal” doctrine held that the black and white races could be separated, as long as they were treated equally. Applying that doctrine, the lower federal courts held that racially segregated public facilities were legal so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal, which they claimed they were. In its majority opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court in Brown held that ‘Separate but Equal’ educational facilities for racial minorities is inherently unequal, violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court reasoned that the segregation of public education based on race instilled a sense of inferiority that had a hugely detrimental effect on the education and personal growth of African American children. The Court based its opinion not on legal precedent or any actual hard data, but on a “Doll Study.” Finally, the Court ordered that public schools end segregation “with all due speed.”

The federal courts receive a lot of challenges under the 14th Amendment; in fact, it is the #1 provision of the Constitution under which constitutional challenges are based. What are the most significant provisions of the 14th Amendment?  They would be the “Due Process” clause and the “Equal Protection” Clause (noticeably not included in the 5th Amendment), both included in Section 1:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the US, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without Due Process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the Equal Protection of the laws.”

Fast forward to the Civil Rights era of the 1960’s, with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. leading marches and protests to end and dismantle the social vestiges and stigmas of our country’s racist past, but most importantly, to dismantle and prohibit the roadblocks put in place by white-dominated Southern societies to prohibit and discourage blacks from voting and thus, eliminating them from the democratic process. King was the driving force behind such critical watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott (December 5, 1955 – December 20, 1956), the 1963 March on Washington, and the Selma March (of 1965). His approach, through peaceful and non-violent marches and protests, helped to dismantle such systemic racist policies and helped to bring about such landmark federal legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks

Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955 for refusing to find a seat at the back of the bus (ie, bus segregation law), the Montgomery bus boycott was a 13-month mass protest that ended with the US Supreme Court ruling, in 1956, that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.

The famous 1963 March on Washington

 On August 28, Reverend King led the famous March on Washington. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech:  [Excerpts]

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to be an heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt….

This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Two years later, on March 25, 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators, black and white, from Selma, Alabama to the steps of the state’s capitol in Montgomery. It was a 5-day, 54-mile march to protest for voting rights for blacks, for which they have been denied. But when they got to Montgomery, the protest turned violent. When the protesters arrived in Montgomery, they were confronted with days of white-on-black violence. Two black clergymen were shot and killed and there was a full day, a Sunday, of white violence against the black protesters (referred to as “bloody Sunday”).

Luckily, the story has a happy ending. A few months later, on August 6, in the presence of King and other civil rights leaders, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recalling “the outrage of Selma,” President Johnson called the right to vote “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”

With the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery), and then the 14th and 15th Amendments, we see our country finally stepping up and abolishing and dismantling our evil institution of slavery. Unfortunately, in most of the Southern States and cities, those amendments meant nothing. They would ignore the ruling. The Amendments were only seen as a “fix on paper.” In the American South, a new form of discrimination, social hierarchy, and slavery would emerge. This was our shameful era of Jim Crow and racial segregation. It lasted into the 1950’s, when Brown v. Board of Education addressed the issue of segregation.  

Many Southern jurisdictions refused to obey and comply with the Brown mandate to integrate their public-school systems. For example, in 1963, racist Alabama Governor George Wallace declared: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He went on to block the entrance of the University of Alabama to prevent black students from enrolling at the school. On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy called for 100 troops from the Alabama National Guard to assist federal officials in allowing black students to enroll.


A day later, white civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi for his work in trying to secure voting rights for blacks.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead by James Earl Ray while standing on a balcony outside his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. On June 6, civil rights activist and presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, died after being shot in the back of the head by Sirhan Sirhan after a campaign speech in Los Angeles.

As we’ve seen throughout history, change brings violence. In the movie JFK, Jim Garrison declares that “Those committed to change often do so at great risk to their lives and their safety.”

There has been a long and steady movement to not only end slavery, but to recognize the equality in blacks. It has not been an easy struggle and it was clearly fraught with lots of violence, but the United States is a far better place for the dedication. It’s sad that certain individuals, groups, racial populations, political activists, and political parties continue to use racism to advance their agenda and to claim victimhood rather than celebrate the advances that have been made and strides we’ve made towards true tolerance and inclusion.

Sadly, it seems that we are going backwards now. Progressive leftists are pushing a racist policy in the public schools all across the country, Critical Race Theory (CRT), which teaches and emphasizes that whites have been the “oppressors” of blacks and in fact, they have designed a social system based on “systemic racism” for their own benefit, allowing them to always be the “entitled” members of society. In short, they are actively trying to keep racism alive. It clearly stirs up a lot of passion and is a useful tool for the left.

Derrick Wilburn, a descendant of slaves, delivered the following comments to the Colorado Springs Board of Education on August 21, 2021 regarding the teaching of CRT at his daughter’s school:

The problem with the education system is that it isn’t teaching our children the truth. The truth is that we ended slavery. We’ve had two consecutive Black secretaries of state, two consecutive Black attorneys general, Black billionaires, Black mayors, and a black US president. Where this oppression is coming from I’m not sure, but personally, I live inside of my skin and I don’t believe that I walk around in an oppressed country. I can think of nothing more damaging to a society than to tell a baby born today, that she has grievances against another baby born today, simply because of what their ancestors may have done two centuries ago……  Racism in America would by and large be dead today if it were not for certain people and institutions keeping it on life support Sadly one of those institutions is the American education system. Putting CRT in our classrooms is taking our country in the wrong direction….

      There’s simply no point in doing that to our children, and putting critical race theory into our classrooms in part does that. Putting critical theory into our classrooms is not combating racism. It’s fanning the flames of what little embers are left. Let racism die the death it deserves.”  [Derrick Wilburn is the founder of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives and has 3 children in Colorado Springs School District 49.  His full remarks can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2fGVbMYp54 ]

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

Perhaps we, as American citizens, should demand that an explicit right to vote (an individual right to vote) be enshrined in the US Constitution and in state constitutions, along with an ‘equal protection’ clause to demonstrate our commitment to equality. This might give our courts greater ammunition to fight bogus voter discrimination claims.

SUMMARY, SO FAR:  

We talked about the right to vote and where that right comes from. And we talked about the history whereby the right to vote has been enlarged so that every American citizen has that right recognized and protected.

I took you through our history – from slavery, to Reconstruction, to Jim Crow, and finally to the dismantling of segregation laws and into the Civil Rights era. I have been stressing and emphasizing our racist past for one important reason…..  because all of the challenges that have been made to our voter identification laws, to our district maps, and to our voter identification constitutional amendment (voted on and approved in 2018) have been based on North Carolina’s racist history or on Republican legislators’ racial intent in passing voter ID laws.

So now let’s look at the right to vote and how it’s protected. First, let’s start with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – passed, in large part, because of the efforts and activism of Martin Luther King Jr. who sought to make sure that blacks were not disenfranchised at the polls.

A.  THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States enacted “to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution.” It prohibits / outlaws the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests and poll taxes, as a prerequisite to voting. In short, it outlaws racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act sought to secure the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country and it is also “one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.”

I will briefly discuss three of its most important sections – Sections 2, 4, and 5.

Section 2 generally prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.

When Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it determined that racial discrimination in voting had been more prevalent in certain areas of the country. Section 4(a) of the Act provides guidance in order to identify those areas and to provide for more stringent remedies where appropriate. The first of these targeted remedies was a five-year suspension of “a test or device,” such as a literacy test or poll tax as a prerequisite to register to vote. The second was the requirement for review, under Section 5, of any change affecting voting and voting laws made by a covered area either by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or by the Attorney General. The third was the ability of the Attorney General to certify that specified jurisdictions also required the appointment of federal examiners. The final remedy under the special provisions is the authority of the Attorney General to go head and send federal observers to those jurisdictions that have been certified for federal examiners. So, as you can see, there is a lot of federal oversight over jurisdictions that have historically engaged in racial discrimination in voting and thus are jurisdictions specifically “covered” by the Voting Rights Act.

Section 4(b), in particular, laid out the “pre-clearance” formula for determining which jurisdictions were subjected to this Section 5 scrutiny. It applied the requirement to any jurisdiction that had voting tests and other discriminatory voting schemes in place as of November 1, 1964. In 2006, Congress reauthorized the Act for another 25 years, again without changing the “pre-clearance” or “coverage” formula under Section 4, and Congress also amended Section 5 to prohibit more conduct than the Act previously covered.

While North Carolina is not identified as a “whole state” under Section 4(a), forty of its one hundred (40/100) counties are considered “covered” under that section, including Pitt County and most of its neighboring counties. [See Appendix below for a full list of North Carolina’s “covered” jurisdictions]. In “fully covered” states (“whole state”), the state itself and all political subdivisions of the state are subject to the special provisions. In “partially covered” states, the special provisions applied only to the identified counties. Voting changes adopted by or to be implemented in covered political subdivisions, including changes applicable to the state as a whole, are subject to review under Section 5.

In 1975, the Act’s special provisions were extended for another seven years and were broadened to address voting discrimination against members of “language minority groups,” which were defined as persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives or of Spanish heritage.” As before, Congress expanded the coverage formula. And in 1982, the coverage formula was extended again, this time for 25 years, but no changes were made to it. In 2006, the coverage formula was again extended for 25 years.

The coverage formula in Section 4(b) was struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby v. Holder because, as the justices noted, it was based on 40-year-old data which is outdated and therefore unworkable, and no longer relates to current situations. Also, it places an impermissible federal burden on certain states as well as an impermissible burden on federalism and State’s Rights (the equal sovereignty of the States as they relate to the federal government).

THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE for the Voting Rights Act:

(i) It prohibits and outlaws discriminatory voting practices and it targets, especially, those states or jurisdictions that have historically engaged in such practices.

(ii) Section 2 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups.

(iii)  Section 4(a) provides guidance as to which states and jurisdictions need to be targeted.

(iv)  Section 5 requires that all such states and jurisdictions need to apply to the federal government whenever they intend to change or amend their voting laws and practices and must get its approval to do so.

(v)  Section 4(b) was a companion provision to Section 4(a). It laid out a specific formula which applied outdated data on disenfranchisement of black voting rights for the government to use when assessing changes to the election laws by the targeted (or “covered”) states and jurisdictions. Luckily, the Supreme Court realized the injustice of relying on grossly-outdated data, ignoring all the advances in race relations, and struck down the section.

(vi)  Forty of North Carolina’s one hundred counties are “covered” by the Voting Rights Act, including Pitt County and her surrounding counties.

B.  THE COMMISSION ON FEDERAL ELECTION REFORM (aka, “The Carter-Baker Commission”)

The Commission on Federal Election Reform was a private, bipartisan organization founded in 2004 by former US President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker, III, a top official under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. They put together a bipartisan commission, including leaders from the major political parties, academic, as well as non-partisan civil groups and its purpose was to study the electoral process in general, examine the inconsistencies of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and to bring to light the flaws and processes that lead to voter and election fraud. The Commission’s ultimate mandate was to identify the flaws in the election process and to make recommendations to maximize both ballot access and ballot integrity.

A major point was the commission’s call for nonpartisan professional and state oversight over elections. The panel noted that both the 2000 and 2004 elections were marred by gross conflicts of interest.

The panel made a variety of other recommendations, including the most significant one – that states need to establish a photo identification mandate to match the voter to the voting roll, while establishing more offices to make it easier for all non-drivers to more easily register and acquire photo IDs. Importantly, the Supreme Court, in 2008, declared that a photo identification (especially one that is provided for free to those who can’t afford one) poses no substantial burden on one’s fundamental right to vote. That case was Crawford v. Marion County, and it will be important for us in North Carolina. (In that case, the Court upheld an Indiana Voter ID which required a form of photo identification when a person shows up in person to vote).

A total of 35 states (or so) have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls. The remaining 15 states and D.C. use other methods to verify the identity of voters. Most frequently, other identifying information provided at the polling place, such as a signature, is checked against information on file.

Before the Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections ruling (2008), there were 25 states that had passed voter ID laws (meaning that some form of identification must be produced before the individual could vote), In the wake of the decision, proponents of voter ID stepped up legislative efforts in several states – 10 of them. . From 2008, when the Crawford ruling was handed down, until 2021, voter ID laws have become more commonplace.  As of 2021, thirty-five states have passed laws requiring some form of identification before an individual is allowed to vote. Florida, Georgia and Indiana require photo identification. Louisiana, Michigan, and South Dakota request it, but will accept other forms of identity. North Carolina is the only state in the southeast that doesn’t have any form of voter identification in place for elections.

C.  WHY DO WE NEED SOME FORM OF VOTER IDENTIFICATION in NORTH CAROLINA FOR ELECTIONS?

First, the Carter-Baker Commission recommended that all States enact some form of voter identification in order to cast a ballot. It studied the irregularities of previous elections and concluded they were marred by fraud. Furthermore, those states that have implemented voter ID laws also understand that the United States has an unfortunate history of voter fraud and that requiring individuals to authenticate their identity at the polls is a fundamental and necessary component of ensuring the integrity of the election process.

Furthermore, studies have shown that voter identification requirements do NOT burden a person’s fundamental right to vote, nor do they depress voter turn-out, including minority, poor, and elderly voters. On the other hand, those who can vote fraudulently (cast multiple votes, assume the identity of another, etc) will undermine and cancel (nullify) the votes of legitimate voters.

D.  THE HISTORY OF OUR VOTER ID INITIATIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina is the ONLY state in the Southeast without some form of voter ID provision in place. That was supposed to change when the Republicans took over the majority in both houses of the state legislature, which occurred with the 2010 election. From 2011 until present, Republicans have held the majority in both the state House and the state Senate, with a trifecta of Republicans from 2013-2016 when Pat McCrory was the Governor.  Yet our state continues to be the only state in the Southeast without such a law.

NORTH CAROLINA PARTY CONTROL:  1992-2022
Fourteen years of Democratic trifectas  •  Four years of Republican trifectas

Year92939495969798990001020304050607080910111213141516171819202122
GovernorRDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDRRRRDDDDDD
SenateDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDRRRRRRRRRRRR
HouseDDDRRRRDDDDDDDDDDDDRRRRRRRRRRRR

THE HISTORY OF VOTER ID LAWS in NORTH CAROLINA

1. THE 2013 NC VOTER ID LAW – House Bill 589 (HB 589)

Acting in accordance with the wishes of voters in the 2010 and 2012 elections, the Republicans in the NC General Assembly, in 2013, enacted the state’s first Voter ID requirement into law. It was the first state voter identification law to pass since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act [the “preclearance Formula” provision in Section 4(b)] in the case Shelby v. Holder (2013). Repealing this provision made it easier for states like North Carolina to pass a Voter ID law, which it quickly did.  

The day after the Shelby County decision was handed down, the Republican legislative leader announced an intention to pass a new “omnibus” election law bill, which resulted in HB 589 – the so-called NC “Voter ID law.” HB 589 required a photo identification for in-person voting and reduced early voting from 17 days to 10 days. (These two provisions would be the ones challenged by Democrats and the NC NAACP). Proponents of the bill claimed the new law was needed to address voter fraud concerns.

Using poor judgement, Republican lawmakers requested data on the use of early voting practices and IDs by race, as they were drafting the Voter ID bill. It showed African Americans disproportionally lack IDs, especially the most common form of identification: a driver’s license. According to opponents of the bill (most notably, the NC NAACP), the forms of allowable ID that made it into the bill were ones African Americans tended to hold in lower percentages. In addition, data shows that African Americans disproportionally used early voting, especially the first 7 of the 17 days of early voting that existed pre-HB 589. The General Assembly proceeded to cut early voting to 10 days. In other words, the NC NAACP alleged that the bill was drafted with racial motivation and was intended to discriminate against African American voters.

In announcing the Voter ID law, Governor Pat McCrory said: “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common-sense safeguard is commonplace.” Unfortunately, the excitement and satisfaction would not last long. The North Carolina state and local chapters of the NAACP filed suit to have the law declared unconstitutional.

On the day the bill was signed into law, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP (NC NAACP) sued the state over the ID requirement (NC NAACP v. McCrory). On April 25, 2016, federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder of the Middle District of North Carolina upheld the law. Judge Schroeder found the justifications for the law, such as the desire to protect against voter fraud, to be “not unreasonable” and “plausible.” In other words, they were sufficient to justify the bill. However, on November 11, 2016, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned this ruling. Judge Diana Motz, writing for the court, stated that the law was “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” The Court found that the North Carolina General Assembly acted with discriminatory intent and that HB 589 violated the 14th and 15th Amendments, which prohibit racial discrimination in the regulation of elections. In other words, Judge Motz struck the law down as being unconstitutional.  As a result of the General Assembly’s alleged racial motivation in passing the law, HB 589 was ruled to be in violation of constitutional and statutory prohibitions on intentional discrimination. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the appropriate remedy was to strike down each of those provisions.

But Republicans, determined to make good on their promised to voters to enact a photographic identification requirement to vote, went back to work – this time, strategizing more intelligently.

2.  THE 2018 VOTER ID CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT —

After losing its battle for the 2013 Voter ID law, Republican lawmakers placed a proposed constitutional amendment for a voter identification requirement to vote on the 2018 ballot. By enshrining a voter ID requirement in the state constitution, they hoped it would make it less likely to be overturned in federal court and would help protect it from challenges in state court. By making voter ID a voter-initiative (rather than a legislative one), it would be more likely to survive legal challenges.

In 2018, there were six (6) statewide ballot measures (ballot initiatives) that were certified for voters on the ballot on November 6, 2018 and voters approved four of them, one being the Voter ID amendment.

On the ballot

TypeTitleSubjectDescriptionResult
LRCARight to Hunt and Fish AmendmentHuntingCreates a constitutional right to hunt and fishApproved
LRCAMarsy’s Law AmendmentLaw EnforcementExpands the constitutional rights of crime victimsApproved
LRCAIncome Tax Cap AmendmentTaxesChanges cap on income tax from 10 percent to 7 percentApprovedOverturned 
LRCAVoter ID AmendmentElectionsRequires a photo ID to vote in personApprovedOverturned 
LRCALegislative Appointments to Elections Board and Commissions AmendmentLegislatureMakes the legislature responsible for appointments to election boardDefeated
LRCAJudicial Selection for Midterm Vacancies AmendmentJudiciaryCreates a process, involving a commission, legislature, and governor to appoint to vacant state judicial seatsDefeated

Voters approved the Voter ID amendment by a 56 to 44 percent margin (ie, by 56%). Approximately two-thirds of white voters supported the voter ID amendment while only one-third of non-whites supported it. NC voters indeed approved a Voter ID amendment to the state constitution but there were no details as to how it would be implemented. And so, as will be discussed below, the General Assembly followed up in December by passing Senate Bill 824 with the necessary details.

The NC chapter of the NAACP, along with Clean Air Carolina, filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court the day after the Voter ID law was enacted because, in their opinion, it violated the state’s constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. They alleged that voting districts had been unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered and therefore, the state legislature was illegally constituted, which means that their official acts were null and void. The specific issue at the center of their lawsuit was whether legislators elected from unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered districts possess authority to initiate the process of changing the North Carolina Constitution.

Justice Phil Berger Jr. wrote for dissenting Republicans: “At issue today is not what our constitution says. The people of North Carolina settled that question when they amended the constitution to include the Voter ID and Tax Cap Amendments. These amendments were placed on the November 2018 ballot by the constitutionally required three-fifths majority in the legislature.”

In February 2019, Wake Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins rejected both constitutional amendments, citing racial motivation. Senate President Phil Berger (R-30) responded to the court’s decision with disgust: “We predicted Democratic activists would launch absurd legal attacks to keep the voters from deciding on their own Constitution, but this one really takes the cake. This absurd argument – which has already been rejected in federal court – is a sad and desperate attempt to stop North Carolina voters from joining 34 other states in requiring identification when casting a ballot.”


Here’s the kicker —  Judge Collins’ ruling characterizing the law as having been racially motivated came despite the fact that an African-American senator sponsored bill S.824 and two other African-American senators initially supported it. [Sen. Joel Ford (D) co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R), and Senators Ben Clarke and Don Davis initially voted in favor of it at various phases of the legislative process, that is, up until the vote to over-ride Governor Cooper’s veto]. Senator Ford, a former senator from Mecklenburg County, said that he didn’t see the bill as being racist. As he explained: “My motivation was purely to protect the vote and to help people who did not have an ID to secure one.” Senator Clark admitted: “The way I saw it, we had a constitutional mandate as determined by the election, to establish a voter ID law. I thought I had an obligation to work across the aisle to support my constituents.”  Senator Davis admitted: “For me, the broader case of fraud justified this bill.”

NOTE:  S.824 was the bill passed by the NC General Assembly in 2018 to implement the Voter ID amendment. It was known as the “NC 2018 Voter ID law.”

On September 15, 2020, the 4th Circuit of Appeals disagreed with the district court and reversed the decision. On October 14, 2020, the NC NAACP filed a Notice of Appeal to the NC Supreme Court.

On August 19, 2022, with a straight 4-3 party-line vote, Democrat justices sitting on the state’s Supreme Court agreed that two voter-approved state constitutional amendments could be thrown out. They sent the case back to a trial judge to make that decision. Republican justices dissented. They say Democrat’s willingness to toss out voter-approved amendments means “the court majority nullifies the will of the people and precludes governance by the majority.” In my opinion, the justices committed judicial activism by substituting their version of the legislative body’s intent for the actual intent of the legislators in passing the amendment’s proposal bill. That is a judicial no-no.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Phil Berger Jr. wrote:

“At issue today is not what our constitution says. The people of North Carolina settled that question when they amended the constitution to include the Voter ID and Tax Cap Amendments…. These amendments were placed on the November 2018 ballot by the constitutionally required three-fifths majority in the legislature. On November 6, 2018, the citizens of North Carolina voted overwhelmingly to approve the North Carolina Voter ID Amendment and the North Carolina Income Tax Cap Amendment. More than 2,000,000 people, or 55.49% of voters, voted in favor of Voter ID, while the Tax Cap Amendment was approved by more than 57% of North Carolina’s voters.”

      Instead, the majority engages in an inquiry that is judicially forbidden — what should our constitution say? This question is designated solely to the people and the legislature… The majority concedes that constitutional procedures were followed, yet they invalidate more than 4.1 million votes and disenfranchise more than 55% of North Carolina’s electorate. Unwilling to accept the results of a procedurally sound election that enshrined the Voter ID and Tax Cap Amendments in our state constitution, the majority nullifies the will of the people and precludes governance by the majority. In so doing, my colleagues extend the reach of their judicial power beyond mere judicial review of actions under our constitution; instead, they have determined that certain provisions of the constitution itself are objectionable.”  (They have violated the time-honored principle of democracy).

Notice how this is the typical mindset of activist judges who see constitutions as “living, breathing documents” which need to evolve with the changing times (the activist judges being the ones to “evolve” them).

It should be noted that the attorney who represented the NC NAACAP in 2018-19, Anita Earls, a notorious progressive idealogue, was on the NC Supreme Court bench for this case. The four justices who discredited the voter-approved amendments – Anita Earls, Sam Ervin, Michael Morgan, and Robin Hudson – are guilty of voter suppression.

Resources:  NC NAACP v. Moore, Judicial Timeline – https://www.southernenvironment.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021-11-4-Timeline-NCNAACP-v-Moore.pdf

“N.C. Supreme Court rules against ‘gerrymandered’ legislature, punts on fate of voter ID and tax cap amendments,” The Carolina Journal, September 27, 2022.  Referenced at:  https://www.carolinajournal.com/n-c-supreme-court-rules-against-gerrymandered-legislature-punts-on-fate-of-voter-id-and-tax-cap-amendments/

3.  THE 2018 NC VOTER ID LAW –

The constitutional Voter ID amendment was to provide the legal foundation for a state voter ID law, and that was the clear intention of our Republican state legislators. Voters went on to approve that amendment by 56%. While the amendment was finally adopted to the state constitution, there were no details as to how it would be implemented. And so, the General Assembly followed up in December by passing Senate Bill 824 with the necessary details. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, of course, vetoed the bill, but Republicans were able to override the veto before their supermajority ended due to the “blue wave” midterm election held the previous month. According to an analysis of every state’s voter ID law by the National Conference of State Legislatures, North Carolina’s law was considered to be “non-strict.” [There are typically 4 categories of voter ID laws – “strict photo ID,” strict non-photo ID,” and “non-strict, photo ID requested,” and “ID requested but photo not required.”]

On the same day that the General Assembly enacted S.824, the NC chapter of the NAACP, along with Clean Air Carolina (“plaintiffs”), filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court (Holmes v. Moore) alleging that because the law disproportionately harms black and Hispanic voters, it violates both the state’s constitution (Article I, Section 19 – “equal protection under the laws”) and Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act (which bars racial discrimination in voting). They demanded injunctive relief (meaning, they demanded that the law, S.824, the “NC Voter ID law,” be prevented from being enforced.

They put forth six reasons: (1)  that the General Assembly violated Article I, Section 19 by intentionally enacting a racially discriminatory law (Claim I);  (2) that the Voter ID law significantly burdens a “fundamental right to vote” (Claim II);  (3) that the law unconstitutionally creates different classes of voters (Claim III);  (4) that it infringes on their Article I, Section 10 right to participate in free elections (Claim IV);  (6) that it violates their assembly, petition, and speech rights under Article I, Sections 12 and 14 (Claim VI).  Claim V makes no sense.

The Wake County Superior Court denied the plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief. The plaintiffs appealed the decision. On September 17, 2021, following a trial earlier that year (in April), a 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for North Carolina issued its decision… The panel concluded that the voter photo ID law violated the North Carolina Constitution. Judge Hampson wrote: “We reverse the trial court’s decision to deny Plaintiffs’ Preliminary Injunction Motion and remand to the trial court with instructions to grant Plaintiff’s Motion and preliminarily enjoin Defendants from implementing or enforcing the voter-ID provisions of S.B. 824 – including, specifically, Parts I and IV of 2018 N.C. Sess. Law 144 – until this case is decided on

the merits.”

In the meantime, the US Supreme Court, granted NC Republican Legislative leaders the right to intervene in court to defend the NC Voter ID law. On June 23 (this year), the Supreme Court ruled that our two leading Republican legislators in North Carolina (House Majority Leader Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger) can join a lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of the state’s voter-identification law. Two lower courts had rejected the legislators’ request, reasoning that the state’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Stein, and the board of elections were already defending the law, but the justices reversed those rulings. In an 8-1 opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court ruled that the Republican legislators have a right to intervene in the lawsuit. In his majority opinion, he wrote: “The 4th Circuit was wrong to presume that the state’s attorney general, Josh Stein, had adequately represented the state’s interests…. Supreme Court cases have made clear that would-be intervenors generally have to meet only a relatively low bar. But such a presumption is inappropriate when a duly authorized state agent seeks to intervene to defend a state law. Normally, a State’s chosen representatives should be greeted in federal court with respect, not adverse presumptions.”  Furthermore, Gorsuch wrote: “The legislative leaders bring a distinct state interest to the case.”

The bottom line is that the status of both our Voter ID constitutional amendment and our Voter ID law are still up in the air. The future will likely see both issues back in court or back on the ballot, especially now that the Supreme Court has given the green light for both Senate leader Phil Berger and House Majority Leader Tim Moore to intervene in litigation to promote and defend the law.

“IF WE DO NOT CHANGE DIRECTION, WE JUST MIGHT END UP WHERE WE ARE HEADING.”

References:

Patrick Cash, East Carolina University, “The Process of Desegregation in Greenville/Pitt County –  file:///C:/Users/Diane%20Rufino%20Surface/Downloads/The%20Process%20of%20School%20Desegregation%20in%20Greenville_9_17.pdf

Sharon McCloskey, “Fifty Years Later, Segregation Battles Are Still in the Courts,” NC Policy Watch, July 18, 2013.  Referenced at:  https://ncpolicywatch.com/2013/07/18/fifty-years-later-segregation-battles-still-in-the-courts/

Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – https://www.justice.gov/crt/section-4-voting-rights-act#:~:text=Section%204(e)%20provides%20that,a%20language%20other%20than%20English.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka I, 37 U.S. 483(1954) –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/347us483

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka II, 37 U.S. 483 (1955) –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1940-1955/349us294

Everett v. Pitt County Board of Education (1971) –  https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/north-carolina/ncedce/6:1969cv00702/92986/93/

Sharon McCloskey, “In a Split Decision, Fourth Circuit Releases Pitt County Schools from Desegregation Orders,” NC Policy Watch, June 4, 2015.  Referenced at:  https://ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/04/in-a-split-decision-fourth-circuit-releases-pitt-county-schools-from-desegregation-orders/

Matthew Lynch, “What the End of Desegregation Really Means in Pitt County,” The Advocate, June 10, 2015.  Referenced at:  https://www.theedadvocate.org/fourth-circuit-ends-desegregation-in-pitt-county-nc-signaling-a-more-troubling-trend/

NC NAACP v. Moore, Judicial Timeline – https://www.southernenvironment.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021-11-4-Timeline-NCNAACP-v-Moore.pdf

Jonathan Drew and Gary R. Robertson, “Court Opens Dorr to Voiding North Carolina Voter ID Amendment,” AP News, August 19, 2022.  Referenced at:  https://apnews.com/article/north-carolina-constitutions-constitutional-amendments-supreme-court-government-and-politics-b7f91cdc8dd7ee1ed80cc50e0fe91382

Lynn Bonner, “One Thing is Certain After the State’s Supreme Court Ruling on Constitutional Amendments – More Court Hearings,” NC Policy Watch, August 25, 2022.  Referenced at:  https://ncpolicywatch.com/2022/08/25/one-thing-is-certain-after-the-state-supreme-court-ruling-on-constitutional-amendments-more-court-hearings/print/

“N.C. Supreme Court Rules Against ‘Gerrymandered’ Legislature, Punts on Fate of Voter ID and Tax Cap amendments,” The Carolina Journal, September 27, 2022.  Referenced at:  https://www.carolinajournal.com/n-c-supreme-court-rules-against-gerrymandered-legislature-punts-on-fate-of-voter-id-and-tax-cap-amendments/

“North Carolina State Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law,” Democracy Docket, September 17, 2021.  Referenced at:  https://www.democracydocket.com/news-alerts/north-carolina-state-court-strikes-down-voter-id-law/

Court Opinion, Holmes v. Moore, Wake County Superior Court (September 17, 2021) – https://www.democracydocket.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021.09.17-Holmes-v.-Moore-Final-Judgment-18-CVS-15292.pdf

Court Opinion, Holmes v. Moore, Appellate Court of North Carolina (2021) – https://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=2&pdf=38774

NC Supreme Court Opinion, NC NAACP v. Moore, August 19, 2022 – https://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=1&pdf=41699

Senate Bill S.824 – https://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/HTML/S824v7.html

Legislative history of S.824 – https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2017/S824

Amy Cole, “North Carolina Republican Lawmakers Win the Right to Intervene in Court and Defend State’s Voter ID Law,” ScotusBlog, Jun3 23, 2022.  Referenced at:  https://www.scotusblog.com/2022/06/north-carolina-republican-lawmakers-win-right-to-intervene-in-court-and-defend-states-voter-id-law/

Will Doran and Danielle Battaglia, “Fact Check: Here’s What You Need to Know About NC Voter ID and Voter Fraud,” News & Observer, January 18, 2020.  Referenced at:  https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article238913033.html

“Party Control of North Carolina State Government,” Ballotpedia https://ballotpedia.org/Party_control_of_North_Carolina_state_government

“Voter ID Laws,” NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) –  https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx

Text of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech (August 28, 1963) – https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety#:~:text=sisters%20and%20brothers.-,I%20have%20a%20dream%20today.,flesh%20shall%20see%20it%20together.

“Techniques of Racial Disenfranchisement,” University of Michigan.  Referenced at: http://websites.umich.edu/~lawrace/disenfranchise1.htm

Martin Luther King Jr. “Letters From a Birmingham Jail,” The Atlantic, February 18, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/02/letter-from-a-birmingham-jail/552461/

APPENDIX

ATRANSCRIPT OF MARTIN LUTHER KING’S “I HAVE A DREAM SPEECH” (August 28, 1963)

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.

We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.

Reference:  https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety#:~:text=sisters%20and%20brothers.-,I%20have%20a%20dream%20today.,flesh%20shall%20see%20it%20together.

B.  CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS RELATED to ELECTIONS

ARTICLE I (LEGISLATIVE POWER):

Article I, Section 4:  (“Elections Clause”)

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

ARTICLE IV

Article IV, Section 4:  (“Republican Form of Government”):

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

C.  RECONSTRUCTION ERA CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS and OTHERS THAT RELATE TO VOTING RIGHTS

The Reconstruction Era constitutional amendments include the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, which, taken together, abolish slavery, recognize freed slaves and other persons of color as American citizens and recognize that they have the same, equal rights as every other American citizen, including the right to vote.

13th Amendment – Section 1: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to its jurisdiction

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” (December 8, 1965)

14th AmendmentSection 1 (Due Process): “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2 (Apportionment of Representation): “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”   (July 9, 1868)

15th Amendment –  Section 1: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2: “The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.  (February 3, 1870)

19th Amendment –  “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”   (June 4, 1919)

26th Amendment –  Section 1: “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2: The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”   (July 1, 1971)

D.  THE SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS AN INDIANA VOTER ID LAW in the Case CRAWFORD v. MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD (2008)  

FACTS:  In 2005, the Indiana legislature passed a law that requires that a voter present ID at the precinct on election day, with absentee voters and residents of state-licensed nursing homes exempted. The requirement does not apply to absentee ballots submitted by mail, and the statute contains an exception for persons living and voting in a state-licensed facility such as a nursing home. A voter who is indigent or has a religious objection to being photographed may cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only if she executes an appropriate affidavit before the circuit court clerk within 10 days following the election. A voter who has photo identification but is unable to present that identification on election day may file a provisional ballot that will be counted if she brings her photo identification to the circuit county clerk’s office within 10 days. No photo identification is required in order to register to vote, and the State offers free photo identification to qualified voters able to establish their residence and identity.

State Representative William Crawford, the Democratic Party of Indiana and other plaintiffs argued that the law violated the right to vote as protected by the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause as well as Article 2 of the Indiana constitution.  They said that the law substantially burdens the “fundamental” right to vote, discriminates between and among different classes of voters, and disproportionately affects disadvantaged and minority voters.

Indiana’s Attorney General defended the law saying it reflected a legitimate legislative concern for in-person voting fraud, it reflected the findings of the Carter-Baker Commission, and was a reasonable exercise of the state’s constitutional authority to regulate the time, place and manner of elections under Article 1, Sec. 4 of the US Constitution.  The state also asserted that plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the statute because they could produce no eligible voter that the law had kept from actually voting.

ISSUE POSED TO THE COURT:  The issue before the Court was whether Indiana’s law requiring voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot, with certain exemptions, violated the U.S. Constitution.

OPINION:  (of the Roberts Court)  The established rule, established by the Supreme Court, is that a state election law that unreasonably discriminates on the basis of a particular class of individuals is unconstitutional, under the 14th Amendment.  However, a state law’s burden on a political party, an individual voter, or a discrete class of voters must be justified by compelling, relevant, and legitimate state interests.

Because Indiana’s cards are free, the inconvenience of going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, gathering required documents, and posing for a photograph does not qualify as a substantial burden on most voters’ right to vote, or represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting. The severity of the somewhat heavier burden that may be placed on a limited number of persons – ie, elderly persons born out-of-state, who may have difficulty obtaining a birth certificate—is mitigated by the fact that eligible voters without photo identification may cast provisional ballots that will be counted if they execute the required affidavit at the circuit court clerk’s office. Even assuming that the burden may not be justified as to a few voters, that

conclusion is by no means sufficient to establish petitioners’ right to the relief they seek.  Unfortunately, the evidence presented at trial (the district court) does not provide any concrete evidence of the burden imposed on voters who currently lack photo identification. In fact, there was no testimony presented by any voter who was overly burdened by the photo ID requirement.

In summing up, the Court concluded that on the basis of the record in this case, it could not conclude that the statute imposes “excessively burdensome requirements” on any class of voters. At most, it “imposes only a limited burden on voters’ rights.” The opinion, it should be noted, was written by Justice Stephen Breyer, probably the most liberal member of the Court.

As to the remedy that the Democrat organizations were seeking – an invalidation of the law – the Court noted that it would be wrong to do so. When evaluating a neutral, nondiscriminatory regulation of voting procedure, as the Court did in this case, it must “keep in mind that ‘a ruling of unconstitutionality frustrates the intent of the elected representatives of the people.’  Indiana’s state interests identified as justifications for the law are both neutral and sufficiently strong to require us to uphold it and to reject the petitioner’s remedy. The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting “the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”

Justice Scalia, joined by Justices Thomas and Alito, joined the majority and defended the delegation of election administration powers to the states under Article 1, Section 4: “It is for state legislatures to weigh the costs and benefits of possible changes to their election codes except when it imposes a severe and unjustified overall burden upon the right to vote or is intended to disadvantage a particular class.”

E.  NORTH CAROLINA COUNTIES “COVERED” UNDER SECTION 4(a) of the VOTING RIGHTS ACT of 1965

40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties are “covered” under Section 4(a) of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 for their past history of racial disenfranchisement of black voting rights:

Anson County                                                             Hoke County

Beaufort County                                                         Jackson County

Bertie County                                                             Lee County

Bladen County                                                            Lenoir County

Camden County                                                          Martin County

Caswell County                                                          Nash County

Chowan County                                                          Northampton County

Cleveland County                                                       Onslow County

Craven County                                                            Pasquotank County

Cumberland County                                                   Perquimans County

Edgecombe County                                                    Person County

Franklin County                                                          Pitt County

Gaston County                                                            Robeson County

Gates County                                                              Rockingham County

Granville County                                                        Scotland County

Greene County                                                            Union County

Guilford County                                                         Vance County

Halifax County                                                           Washington County

Harnett County                                                           Wayne County

Hertford County                                                         Wilson County

F.  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR AMENDING THE NC STATE CONSTITUTION

According to Article II of the North Carolina state Constitution: “Amendments to Constitution of North Carolina.  Every bill proposing a new or revised Constitution or an amendment or amendments to this Constitution or calling a convention of the people of this State, and containing no other matter, shall be submitted to the qualified voters of this State after it shall have been read three times in each house and signed by the presiding officers of both houses.” Proposed constitutional amendments need three-fifths votes in both the House and Senate in order to be placed on the ballot for voters. Republican supermajorities in 2018 helped get the most controversial constitutional changes to voters. Republicans that year had a 75-45 advantage in the House and a 35-15 advantage in the Senate. The voter ID amendment passed the House by two votes over the minimum three-fifths and passed the Senate with three votes over the minimum.

G.  HISTORY OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION & SEGREGATION IN NORTH CAROLINA & SPECIFICALLY, GREENVILLE (PITT COUNTY)

North Carolina had a history of racial desegregation. The Supreme Court decided the landmark education case – Brown v. Board of Education (I) and (II) in 1954 and then in 1955. The first case identified the problem, which was legal, or de facto, racial segregation in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14thAmendment.

This case was the consolidation of cases arising in Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. relating to the segregation of public schools on the basis of race. In each of the cases, African-American students had been denied admittance to certain public schools based on laws allowing public education to be segregated by race. They argued that such segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs were denied relief in the lower courts based on Plessy v. Ferguson, which held that racially segregated public facilities were legal so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal. (This was known as the “separate but equal” doctrine).

Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the unanimous Court. The Supreme Court held that “separate but equal” facilities are inherently unequal and violate the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but the case specifically addressed the segregation in public education systems. The Court reasoned that the segregation of public education based on race instilled a sense of inferiority that had a hugely detrimental effect on the education and personal growth of African American children. Warren based much of his opinion on information from social science studies rather than court precedent (He based his assessment on a “doll study”).  

After its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Brown I), which declared racial discrimination in public education unconstitutional, the Court convened to issue the directives which would help to implement its newly announced constitutional principle. The cases stemmed from many different regions of the United States with distinctive conditions and problems. The Court ordered that the Brown I decision shall be implemented “with all deliberate speed” and local school authorities were tasked with such implementation.

So, in 1955, with Brown I and Brown II, schools were to be desegregated. From 1957-1958, there was what was called “token integregation.” A total of 11 black students state-wide were enrolled in previously all-white schools – 4 students in Charlotte, 6 in Greensboro, and only 1 in Winston-Salem. That was it.

Pitt County, located in the eastern part of the state, is a microcosm of a multiracial and class-stratified population growing in North Carolina.  In 2013, 59% of its approximately 170,000 residents were white, 34% black, and 5%, Latino. Nearly 24% were living in poverty – higher than the state’s 15% average. That includes the more than one in four children, and some 64% of those enrolled in public schools qualify for free or reduced meals. Unemployment in Pitt County hovers at around 10%. In its 35 public schools, African-American students made up the majority, according to district records. In 2012-13, close to 48% of its students were black, 38% white, and 10% Latino.

A report that came out in November 1960 confirmed that North Carolina was failing when it came to integrating African-American students in previously all white schools. By that time, only 75 African-Americans students were enrolled in these previously all-white schools. Absolutely dismal. Furthermore, the report also noted how the state’s most populated school districts, Raleigh and Charlotte, were lacking significant numbers of integrated students. Raleigh had only 1 case while Charlotte showed only 2.

In 1961, The NAACP filed several lawsuits against several North Carolina school districts that they believed had failed at desegregating their facilities at a reasonable pace. In one particular case, Wheeler v. The Durham City Board of Education, the federal district court stated that students and their families must follow the dictates of Brown and the procedures set forth by state legislation, known as the Pupil Assignment Act. It concluded that the district had practiced blatant racial discrimination due to its low numbers of approved African-American student transfers. And so, the court ordered the Durham School Board to abide by Brown and state procedures. After the Durham City School Board failed to follow through on the court order, the case was appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned the lower court’s decision. Instead, the School Board was ordered to submit a plan that would end racial segregation and discrimination in the district. A proposed time limit was given. As it turned out, such “school district integration plans” would be ordered by the federal courts. Pitt County was one such school district.

By 1963, of North Carolina’s estimated 346,746 African-American students, 1,865 were enrolled in a previously all white school (which amounts to 0.538%). Of the 171 school districts in the state, 40 were integrated (but only 38 were integrated voluntarily; 2 were court-ordered),

By 1964, of North Carolina’s estimated 349,282 African-American students, only 4,949 were enrolled in a previously all-white school (1.42%). Of the 171 school districts in North Carolina, 84 were integrated.

Also in 1964, a petition dated November 16, 1964 called for the reassignment of the 272 African-American students enrolled in Pitt County Schools. The petition claimed that Pitt County knowingly operated a racially-biased (desegregated) system both before and after the 1954 Brown decision. A civil lawsuit was filed in federal court in December 1964 by Moses Teel, calling for the complete racial desegregation of the Pitt County school system. He wanted his children to be transferred to an all-white school. The federal court found that the district was operating racially-segregated, dual and unconstitutional school systems, and required it to submit plans which would achieve balanced enrollment similar to the school age population in the district and “eradicate the vestiges of the dual school system and eliminate the effects of segregation.”  Unfortunately, when Mr. Teel’s application to an all-white school was denied, his children were placed in an all-black school that was further from their home.

In 1965, as a result of the lawsuit, Pitt County adopted a desegregation plan which it called its “Freedom of Choice” Plan. Under that plan, parents of all children would be given the opportunity to choose their choice of school before the board makes assignments. If more requests were submitted than a particular school could hold, preference would be given to those living closest to the school. Those parents who were denied would be allowed to identify a second choice.

Note: the “Freedom of Choice” plan would not be approved for the 1966-67 school year if it did not address the

desegregation of faculty and the ending of segregated athletic and extracurricular activities.

Following the approval of the U.S. Department of Education, Pitt County operated their schools under the “Freedom of Choice” plan as well as a Plan adopted in 1968 that reorganized the school system. This all changed when a Judge (John Larkins) rejected the ongoing approach and ordered the district to deliver a new plan that would “end the dual school system and effectively establish a single, non-racial unitary school

system by the fall of 1970.” Judge Larkins ordered the district to present a timetable for completion as

well as a report that detailed the exact use of each facility in the system, which schools might be paired with others and which might be closed.

As of March 1969, of the 7,145, African American students enrolled in Pitt County schools 2,464 were assigned to a school on a nonracial basis. (34.4%) and 159 of 549 teachers are assigned to a school on a nonracial basis.

The “Freedom of Choice” Plan that was finally and officially adopted by the Pitt County Board of Education Adopted on May 6, 1965 allowed all students in grades 1st, 9th-12th, and all new students the choice of which

school they would attend for the 1965-66 school year.  For the 1966-67 school year, students in all grades except 7thand 8th would be given the choice on which school to attend and by the 1967-68 school year, schools for students of all grades would be assigned by choice.

In March, 1968, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (DHHW) stated that school districts had a duty to eliminate the historic dual system of schools across the south and that districts should adopt a plan of compliance that would completely desegregate their schools for the 1969-70 school year. In 1969-70, in response to the DHHW, Greenville City Schools submitted a plan for approval that shifted away from the “Freedom of Choice” model in favor of a geographic zoning model. The plan was rejected by the DHHW

due to Sadie Saulter Elementary School remaining an “all-black” school. Despite the rejection, however, Greenville continued forward with the plan, believing it was the best plan that would satisfy the needs of their

students with the demands of the federal government.

On October 24, 1969: a physical dispute erupted at Rose High School when African-American students accused the administration of removing two of their fellow students from the school even though they apparently had done nothing wrong. The dispute evolved into a fight during the lunch hour that saw one student injured and taken to the hospital and the school closed for the remainder of the day as well as the following Monday. In the days that followed, several African-American students presented a set of demands to administration which included the teaching of a Black History course, the removal of police from campus, and the re-admittance

of students suspended because of the October 24th fight.

Four days later, on October 28, the Greenville City School Board responded to the demands of those students. Its official response included several clauses, including the following:

1. The school board agreed to address transportation issues that resulted in overcrowding and tardiness;

2. The school board agreed to ensure fair treatment for all students regardless of race;

3. A survey regarding the offering of a Black History course would be used to gauge if there was sufficient interest in the course;

4. Board members agree that there must be an increased effort when it comes to ensuring that problems presented by African-American students receive equal interest and concern;

5. All school activities must be planned in a way in which all students can participate.

6. Any charges of discrimination made against a staff member will be fully investigated and if found true, will be properly dealt with.

On March 3, 1970, a motion was submitted asking that “Greenville City Board of Education be required to immediately adopt and implement a plan of desegregation for its schools and for its faculty.” It was filed in federal court. The motion also requested that any new school construction be halted until the district adopts such a plan and can prove that any new construction would help further desegregate the school system. The motion accused Greenville City Schools of using construction as a means of ensuring a system that would remain fully segregated.

The district court judge, John Larkins, ordered that the Greenville City School Board must present a new plan for the 1970-71 school year. Larkins ordered the board must “submit to the court within 24 days a plan utilizing paring, grouping, rezoning or other facility or planning method for the achievement of racial integration of student and faculty.” Larkins stated that the board’s previous plan was” deficient of teachers and school personnel…”

One week after Judge Larkins’ ruling, the Greenville City School Board debated 4 different plans desegregation before adopting Plan 4 (for the 1970-71 school year) with a 5-2 vote. Plan 4 maintained the geographic zones as they had been with only slight variations, converted Agnes Fullilove Elementary into a kindergarten and school for special programs, and accomplished the required ratios of desegregation by bussing students to each school.

An estimated total of 1044 elementary students would need to be bused to school for the academic year 1970-71.

Larkins’ court order finally forced Pitt County/Greenville to racially integrate its public schools. The school district was the last major district to desegregate in a state that was the nation’s second-to-last to desegregate (a little-known fact). About 58,000 black and white children began attending classes side by side when the order was implemented on Feb. 17, 1970, when 60% of Greenville’s black students were assigned to new schools while 10% of white students were required to switch.

On August 13, 1970, a complaint against the Greenville City School Board was filed by student Barry Christopher Henderson and his parents. The complaint was filed on behalf of a group of students who resided

in the Hillsdale, Greenbrier, and Carolina Heights sub-divisions that would be forced to be bused to Sadie Saulter Elementary School. The group requested an injunction that prevented Plan 4 from being implemented.

In 2006, the Greenville Parents Association filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, contending that the district’s 2006-07 assignment plan discriminated against white students because it used race to balance some of its elementary school population. A settlement followed in November 2009, with the court reiterating the district’s continued desegregation obligations under earlier orders. In late 2010, the district approved a school assignment plan for 2011-12 which the parents Rhonda Everett, Melissa Grimes, and Caroline Sutton claimed left some schools with high minority, low-achieving student bodies, in violation of prior court orders, thereby resulting in a drop in student proficiency rates. The percentage of white students at the district’s C.M. Eppes Middle School dropped to 25%; at Elmhurst Elementary, to 23%; and at South Greenville Elementary, to 17%. The district also opened a new elementary school, Lakeforest, with only 12% white students.  Each of those schools likewise had a corresponding drop in student proficiency rates. Those parents filed suit in federal court, requesting that the school assignment plan for 2011-12 be enjoined (not allowed to go into effect) because it would create a racially-identifiable non-Caucasian student body at Lakeforest Elementary and would increase racial isolation of non-Caucasian students at two other schools – Elmhurst Elementary and South Greenville Elementary. They filed suit against the Pitt County Board of Education, which sought to defend the assignment plan.

In writing the court’s opinion, Judge Malcolm Howard wrote: “In its order approving the settlement, the court questions whether the 1970 desegregation orders should be lifted. Consequently, the court ordered the parties to ‘work toward unity status so that the court could relinquish jurisdiction over this case and restore to the School Board full responsibility to the operation of its schools.’ The court ordered the parties to submit “a report detailing the School Board’s efforts and progress in achieving unity status and eliminating the vestiges of past discrimination to the extent possible,’ on or before December 31, 2012.”

The court denied the parents’ (plaintiffs) motion for injunctive relief, commenting: “The fact that the 2011-12 assignment plan results in schools that do not reflect the racial composition of the school system as a whole does not mean that the plan is unconstitutional.” The parents appealed the ruling.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling. In its 2-1 majority opinion, Judge Albert Diaz wrote: “We need look no further for proof than the fact that the desegregation orders remained administratively closed for over thirty-five years, during which time the Board undertook the task of integrating the schools relatively undisturbed. Until 2008, no party came before the district court accusing the Board of neglecting or disregarding its obligations under the desegregation orders….  From the date the district court entered its desegregation orders, school administrators took immediate steps to effectively integrate their schools and move them toward unitary status. In very short order, both school districts had almost completely eliminated racially identifiable schools. While racial imbalance returned over the succeeding years, the respective boards consistently took measures to bring their schools back into balance.” 

In other words, Pitt County schools had finally fulfilled their obligations under desegregation orders first entered more than 40 years ago and need no longer remain subject to federal oversight.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: Why Such Hostility to This Fundamental Freedom?

by Diane Rufino, October 7, 2022

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”   — C.S. Lewis

It is absolutely clear that religion in this country has come under an attack from the ideological progressive left. Religion, religious leaders, religious business owners, and religious organizations have been demonized, vilified, slandered, and bullied all because they dare to stand firm in their religious beliefs. Segments of established churches, such as the Methodist Church and the Catholic Church, are demanding that they ignore and even revise the religious principles they stand for and promote. They want to get rid of the “marriage is between one man and one woman” and “man shall not lie with another man” religious teachings so that the churches can fall in line with today’s social progression.  

The First amendment contains two separate protections when it comes to religion and religious exercise. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Religious Liberty is the first of our fundamental rights to be addressed in the Bill of Rights. The first clause in the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”) is known as the “Establishment Clause.” This clause makes perfectly clear that the federal government (Congress) is prohibited the government from “establishing” a state-sponsored church, which is what Great Britain did in establishing the (Anglican) Church of England.

The second clause [“Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise (of one’s religion) thereof”] is known as the “Free Exercise Clause.” The Free Exercise Clause reserves the right of American citizens to accept any religious belief and engage in religious rituals; that is, Americans are protected from government in their free exercise of their religious beliefs. The Free Exercise Clause not only protects religious belief and expression; it also seems to allow for violation of laws, as long as that violation is made for religious reasons. 

Before we even had the Constitution and the First Amendment, religious liberty protections were already a priority in the minds of men such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. For example, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was drafted by Jefferson in 1776 and accepted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786, was one of the most important documents in early U.S. religious history. By its enactment, it ensured that all religious groups were placed on an equal footing so far as the State was concerned. The Virginia Statute marked the end of a ten-year struggle for the separation of church and state in Virginia, and it was, in fact, the driving force behind the religious clauses of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791. As Jefferson explained: The Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty was a first attempt to attempt to provide religious freedom to “the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian, the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the infidel of every denomination.” To explain it in terms of historical significance, it was the first attempt in the new nation to remove the government’s influence from religious affairs.

Today, we (incorrectly) associate the phrase “Separation of Church and State” as explaining the meaning of the Establishment Clause. The question is: Where did this phrase come from? And what exactly does it mean? The phrase certainly appears in no official founding document. Leading religious experts have challenged politicians and jurists to find it

So, if the phrase “Separation of Church and State” appears in no official founding document, what is the source of that phrase?  And how did it become so closely associated with the First Amendment?  As we now know, the phrase came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson.

On October 7, 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut, sent a letter to President Thomas Jefferson expressing their concern that protection for religion had been written into the laws and constitutions. Believing strongly that freedom of religion was an inalienable right given by God, the fact that it appeared in civil documents suggested that the government viewed it as a government-granted rather than a God-given right. Apprehensive that the government might someday wrongly believe that it did have the power to regulate public religious activities, the Danbury Baptists communicated their anxiety to President Jefferson.   

      
On January 1, 1802, Jefferson responded to their letter. He understood their concerns and agreed with them that man accounted only to God and not to government for his faith and religious practice. Jefferson emphasized to the Danbury Baptists that none of man’s natural (ie, inalienable) rights, including the right to exercise one’s faith publicly, would ever place him in a situation where the government would interfere with his religious expressions. He assured them that because of the ‘wall of separation,’ they need not fear government interference with religious expressions:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God,… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

In his letter, Jefferson made clear that the “wall of separation” was erected not to limit public religious expressions but rather to provide security against governmental interference with those expressions, whether private or public. (On numerous other occasions, Jefferson repeatedly affirmed that the sole purpose of the First Amendment was to ensure that the federal government could not interfere with public religious expressions).

Later courts occasionally cited Jefferson’s “separation” letter in their rulings. For example, in the 1878 case Reynolds v. United States, the Supreme Court quoted heavily from Jefferson’s letter, noting with approval Jefferson’s view that the federal government was not to interfere with religious expressions of values, except in a very narrow set of circumstances.

The case addressed the issue of religion and polygamy. George Reynolds, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was charged with bigamy under the federal Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act after marrying a woman while still married to his previous wife. Reynolds argued that the law was unconstitutional. He reasoned that his religion required him to marry multiple women and the law therefore violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. And so, he took this issue to court.

The specific question posed to the US Supreme Court is whether religious exercise or religious duty is a legitimate defense to a criminal charge. The Court, however, upheld Reynolds’s conviction and Congress’ power to prohibit polygamy. The Court held that while Congress could not outlaw a belief in the correctness of polygamy, it could outlaw the practice thereof. The majority reasoned that while marriage is a “sacred obligation,” it is nevertheless “usually regulated by law” in “most civilized nations.” The Court addressed Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists and summarized it as follows:  

The rightful purposes of civil government are for its officers to interfere with religion only when its principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order. In this is found the true distinction between what properly belongs to the Church and what belongs to the State….. Congress was deprived of all legislative power over mere religious opinion but was left free to reach religious actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order.”

Ultimately, the Court held that people cannot ignore a law and avoid prosecution due to their religious beliefs.

Since the federal government was only to inhibit religious expressions that were “subversive of good order” or “broke out into overt acts against peace and good order,” that Court (and other courts, including in Commonwealth v. Nesbit and Lindenmuller v. The People) provided examples of the types of “religious” acts into which the government did have legitimate reason to intrude – acts such as human sacrifice, concubinage, incest, polygamy, injury to children, etc. But in traditional religious practices (whether public prayer, the use of the Scriptures, etc), the government was never to interfere. This was the clearly-understood meaning of Jefferson’s “separate” letter and the manner in which it was applied for a century and a half.

However, a reversal occurred in 1947, in the case of Everson v. Board of Education.

In 1947, the US Supreme Court began to reinterpret the First Amendment by re-interpreting the phrase “Wall of Separation Between Church and State,” which is a legal fiction, in the case of Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township. At issue was a New Jersey law which authorized reimbursement by local school boards of the costs of transportation to and from schools, including private schools. 96% of the private schools who benefitted from this law were parochial Catholic schools. Arch R. Everson, a taxpayer in Ewing Township, filed a lawsuit alleging that this indirect aid to religion violated both the New Jersey state constitution and the First Amendment. After losing in state courts, Everson appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on purely federal constitutional grounds.

Justice Hugo Black, a former KKK leader, wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court in Everson. The majority concluded that the New Jersey statute which permitted reimbursement to the parents of Catholic children for the cost of bus transportation as was available to children attending public school (and to those who chose, rather, to attend a parochial school) was valid in light of the Establishment Clause. Justice Black wrote: “The establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” In his conclusion, Black added this phrase: “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach. New Jersey has not breached it here.”

And since that 1947 opinion, the phrase “separation of church and state” no longer meant that the federal government (ie, the “state”) could not establish a federal denomination (ie, a “church”), but has been re-interpreted to mean that public religious expressions (ie, the new “church”) must be kept separate from the public square (ie, the new “state”). This change in definition has resulted in one absurd ruling after another, each one destroying our national identity bit by bit.

This is why I say that the “Wall of Separation” phrase is a legal fiction.

In 1962, the US Supreme Court began to remove religion from America’s public schools, with the case Engel v. Vitale. In that case, the New York State Board of Regents authorized a short, voluntary prayer for recitation at the start of each school day. A group of organizations joined forces in challenging the prayer, claiming that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The New York Court of Appeals rejected their arguments. The question presented by this case was an extremely narrow one – whether New York overstepped constitutional bounds when it agreed to finance a religious exercise. Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?  

The Supreme Court held that the state cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if participation is not required and the prayer is not tied to a particular religion.

In an opinion authored by Hugo L. Black, the Court held that respondent’s decision to use its school system to facilitate recitation of the official prayer violated the Establishment Clause. Specifically, the policy breached the constitutional “wall of separation between church and state,” which he so ‘eloquently’ (sarcastic) and deceitfully articulated in his Everson opinion. The Court ruled that the constitutional prohibition of laws establishing religion meant that government had no business drafting formal prayers for any segment of its population to repeat in a government-sponsored religious program. The Court held that respondent’s provision of the contested daily prayer was inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.

Justice William Douglas concurred in the judgment on the ground that the state’s financing a religious exercise violated the First Amendment. In his concurring opinion, Douglas, explained: “We think that by using its public school system to encourage recitation of the Regents’ prayer, the State of New York has adopted a practice wholly inconsistent with the Establishment Clause. There can, of course, be no doubt that New York’s program of daily classroom invocation of God’s blessings as prescribed in the Regents’ prayer is a religious activity. It is a solemn avowal of divine faith and supplication for the blessings of the Almighty. The nature of such a prayer has always been religious….,” and as such violates the “wall of separation” rule.  

He continued:

“In New York, the teacher who leads in prayer is on the public payroll, and the time she takes

seems minuscule . . . Yet, for me, the principle is the same, no matter how briefly the prayer is said, for, in each of the instances given, the person praying is a public official on the public payroll, performing a religious exercise in a governmental institution. It is said that the element of coercion is inherent in the giving of this prayer. If that is true here, it is also true of the prayer with which this Court is convened, and of those that open the Congress. Few adults, let alone children, would leave our courtroom or the Senate or the House while those prayers are being given. Every such audience is in a sense a ‘captive’ audience…..   At the same time, I cannot say that to authorize this prayer is to establish a religion in the strictly historic meaning of those words. A religion is not established in the usual sense merely by letting those who choose to do so say the prayer that the public-school teacher leads. Yet once government finances a religious exercise, it inserts a divisive influence into our communities…..

The First Amendment leaves the Government in a position not of hostility to religion but of neutrality . . . The philosophy is that if government interferes in matters spiritual, it will be a divisive force. The First Amendment teaches that a government neutral in the field of religion.”

Next came the removal of Bible reading at the start of each school day. In the case of Abington School District v. Schempp, a Pennsylvania law requiring public school teachers to read from the Bible at the beginning of each school day was challenged as being violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (and the Fourteenth Amendment, which incorporated the First Amendment on the States in the case Gitlow v. New York, in 1925). The issue presented to the Court was whether the Pennsylvania law requiring public school students to participate in classroom religious exercises violate the religious freedom of students as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court consolidated this case with one involving Maryland atheists (headed by the infamous atheist and hedonist, Madalyn Murray O’Hair), who challenged a Baltimore city rule that provided for opening exercises in the public schools that consisted primarily of reading a chapter from the bible and the Lord’s Prayer. (Murray v. Curlett). When Maryland’s highest court held that in-school Bible readings did not violate the First Amendment, O’Hair appealed to the US Supreme Court. The case was then consolidated with the Abington v. Schempp case.

The Supreme Court concluded that public schools cannot sponsor Bible readings and/or recitations of the Lord’s Prayer under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. In an opinion written by Justice Clark, the majority concluded that, in both cases, the laws required religious exercises and such exercises directly violated the First Amendment.

In this excerpt from the Opinion, he explains: “Petitioners (atheists) contend that the state laws requiring or permitting use of the Regents’ prayer must be struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause because that prayer was composed by governmental officials as a part of a governmental program to further religious beliefs. For this reason, they argue, the State’s use of the Regents’ prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State. We agree. We think that the constitutional prohibition against laws respecting an establishment of religion must at least mean that in this country it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government.”

Furthermore, he wrote:

“The wholesome “neutrality” of government toward religion of which this Court’s cases speak . . . stems from a recognition of the teachings of history that powerful sects or groups might bring about a fusion of governmental and religious functions or a concert or dependency of one upon the other to the end that official support of the State or Federal Government would be placed behind the tenets of one or of all orthodoxies. This the Establishment Clause prohibits. And a further reason for neutrality is found in the Free Exercise Clause, which recognizes the value of religious training, teaching and observance and, more particularly, the right of every person to freely choose his own course with reference thereto, free of any compulsion from the state. This the Free Exercise Clause guarantees. Thus, the two clauses may overlap…. The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion, then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution…. T]here must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion. The Free Exercise Clause withdraws from legislative power, state and federal, the exertion of any restraint on the free exercise of religion. Its purpose is to secure religious liberty in the individual by prohibiting any invasions thereof by civil authority. Hence it is necessary in a free exercise case for one to show the coercive effect of the enactment as it operates against him in the practice of his religion. The distinction between the two clauses is apparent—a violation of the Free Exercise Clause is predicated on coercion while the Establishment Clause violation need not be so attended.

Applying the Establishment Clause principles to the cases at bar, we find that reciting morning readings from the Bible and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer constitute a religious ceremony that was intended by the State to be so. Given that finding, the exercises and the law requiring them are in violation of the Establishment Clause.

The State contends that the program is an effort to extend its benefits to all public-school children without regard to their religious belief. Included within its secular purposes, it says, are the promotion of moral values, the contradiction to the materialistic trends of our times, the perpetuation of our institutions and the teaching of literature. The short answer is that the religious character of the exercise was admitted by the State. But even if its purpose is not strictly religious, it is sought to be accomplished through readings, without comment, from the Bible. Surely the place of the Bible as an instrument of religion cannot be gainsaid, and the State’s recognition of the pervading religious character of the ceremony is evident from the rule’s specific permission permitting nonattendance at the exercises. None of these factors is consistent with the contention that the Bible is here used either as an instrument for nonreligious moral inspiration or as a reference for the teaching of secular subjects.

The conclusion follows that, in both cases, the laws require religious exercises, and such exercises are being conducted in direct violation of the rights of the appellees and petitioners. Nor are these required exercises mitigated by the fact that individual students may absent themselves upon parental request, for that fact furnishes no defense to a claim of unconstitutionality under the Establishment Clause. Further, it is no defense to urge that the religious practices here may be relatively minor encroachments on the First Amendment. The breach of neutrality that is today a trickling stream may all too soon become a raging torrent and, in the words of James Madison, “it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties” (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments).

It is insisted that, unless these religious exercises are permitted, a ‘religion of secularism’ is established in the schools. We agree, of course, that the State may not establish a ‘religion of secularism’ in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus ‘preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe’ (Zorach v. Clauson). We do not agree, however, that this decision in any sense has that effect. In addition, it might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment. But the exercises here do not fall into those categories. They are religious exercises, required by the States in violation of the command of the First Amendment that the Government maintain strict neutrality, neither aiding nor opposing religion.

Finally, we cannot accept that the concept of neutrality, which does not permit a State to require a religious exercise even with the consent of the majority of those affected, collides with the majority’s right to free exercise of religion. While the Free Exercise Clause clearly prohibits the use of state action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone, it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the State to practice its beliefs….

The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality. Though the application of that rule requires interpretation of a delicate sort, the rule itself is clearly and concisely stated in the words of the First Amendment. Applying that rule to the facts of these cases, we affirm the judgment….”

Justice Douglas wrote, in his concurring opinion:

“The Establishment Clause is not limited to precluding the State itself from conducting religious exercises. It also forbids the State to employ its facilities or funds in a way that gives any church, or all churches, greater strength in our society than it would have by relying on its members alone. Thus, the present regimes must fall under that clause for the additional reason that public funds, though small in amount, are being used to promote a religious exercise. Through the mechanism of the State, all of the people are being required to finance a religious exercise that only some of the people want and that violates the sensibilities of others.

The most effective way to establish any institution is to finance it, and this truth is reflected in the appeals by church groups for public funds to finance their religious schools. Financing a church either in its strictly religious activities or in its other activities is equally unconstitutional, as I understand the Establishment Clause. Budgets for one activity may be technically separable from budgets for others. But the institution is an inseparable whole, a living organism, which is strengthened in proselytizing when it is strengthened in any department by contributions from other than its own members.

Such contributions may not be made by the State even in a minor degree without violating the Establishment Clause. It is not the amount of public funds expended; as this case illustrates, it is the use to which public funds are put that is controlling. For the First Amendment does not say that some forms of establishment are allowed; it says that “no law respecting an establishment of religion” shall be made. What may not be done directly may not be done indirectly, lest the Establishment Clause become a mockery.”

It should be acknowledged that the cases before the high Court were intentionally brought by atheist and other anti-religion persons and organizations for the sole purpose of taking religion out of our public schools. Next would come the demonization of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

One of the most notorious atheist activists was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, a proud and avowed atheist and hedonist. Murray was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1919. Pregnant with her first child in 1945, she declared to her family that she was going outside to “challenge God to strike me and this child dead with one of those lightning bolts.” She took pleasure in the fact that she was not struck down, despite violently cursing and bating God.  This event set a precedent for numerous dramatic and attention-seeking decisions she would make later in her life, nearly all of which were facilitated by her abhorrence of religion.

It was the deeply rooted educational practice of reading the Bible in class that Murray set her sights on. She was determined to have the practice prohibited. Murray herself most clearly spelled out her beliefs and aims in a letter to her supporters: “We are Atheists. As such, we are foes of any and all religions. We want the Bible out of school because we do not accept it as being either holy or an accurate historical document. We want the Lord’s prayer out of school because we doubt the historicity of Jesus Christ and also we do not believe in the efficacy of prayer.” In 1963, she brought a case, Murray v. Curlett, challenging the policy of mandatory prayers and Bible reading in Baltimore public schools. The case was consolidated with the Abington case for hearing by the Supreme Court.

Murray publicized her victory as a triumph against the oppressive hegemony of the church in Christian society. Unsurprisingly, she achieved celebrity status, though much of the attention was violently antagonistic. Life Magazine would later describe Murray as “The Most Hated Woman in America,” a title which she relished.


It is perhaps a shame that she is remembered most due to the nature of her death. In August 1977, Murray, her son and her granddaughter all disappeared from their home in Austin, Texas. It would be weeks before the police discovered their brutally deformed remains in a nearby ranch. She worked hard to make sure we ushered in an era of hostility to religion. She was a vile woman who met a grisly end. She will continue to be remembered as the “Most Hated Woman in America.”

The Supreme Court remained on course, validating the hostility to religion in public schools. For example, in the 1990 case of Stone v. Graham, the Supreme Court was asked to address a challenge by Sydell Stone and a number of other parents who claimed that a Kentucky state law that required the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments in each public-school classroom was unconstitutional. They filed a claim against James Graham, the superintendent of public schools in Kentucky.

The question brought before the Court was whether the Kentucky statute violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment? The Supreme Court ruled that because of the new interpretation of “separation of church and state,” it was unconstitutional for a student at school to continue, even voluntarily, to see a copy of the Ten Commandments. The Court explained: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon.”

With the Reynolds opinion,the Supreme Court reversed more than two centuries of precedent (including its own previous rulings), ordering that the Bible and its teachings are no longer to be permitted in public schools. Why?  The Court explained: “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be and…. had been psychologically harmful to the child (student).”

According to the Court, if students, even voluntarily, were to look at a copy of the Ten Commandments, they might adopt and even obey teachings such as “do not steal” and “do not kill.” That would be unconstitutional. Horrors!! This bizarre and unreasonable logic is reflective of far too many of the Court’s rulings on religion and religious liberty since 1962, with the Engel v. Vitale decision, and then 1963, with the Abington v. Schempp decision, as explained above.

What an amazing pronouncement from the Supreme Court – the Scriptures can cause psychological damage. Exposing students to Biblical teachings, such as the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes, and the Good Samaritan, can cause lasting brain damage! Who could imagine that the highest court in the land, tasked with interpreting the US Constitution, as originally written and understood, and as adopted and ratified by the States, would so recklessly and erroneously transform our American public school system.

But the Supreme Court seems poised to make things right again. Take, for example, this year’s case, Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach, engaged in prayer with a number of students during and after school games. He especially prayed in gratitude at the 50-yard line after each game his team won. His employer, the Bremerton School District, asked that he discontinue the practice in order to protect the school from a lawsuit based on violation of the Establishment Clause, but coach Kennedy refused and instead rallied local and national television, print media, and social media to support him.

Kennedy sued the school district for violating his rights under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court held that because the school district suspended him solely because of the risk of constitutional liability associated with his religious conduct, its actions were justified. Kennedy appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision of the lower court. Kennedy then appealed his case to the Supreme Court.

The issue presented to the Court was whether a public-school employee’s prayer during school sports activities constitutes protected speech, and if so, can the public-school employer prohibit it to avoid violating the Establishment Clause?

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch explained that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal and the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.

In fact, the Court “abandoned” the “tests” used to analyze First Amendment religious liberty cases and replaced them instead with an analysis that considers “historical practices and understandings.” Applying the new test, the Court concluded that there is no conflict between the constitutional commands of the First Amendment presented by coach Kennedy’s actions.

Next, let’s look at how the Supreme Court addressed claims of First Amendment violations in the business sector. In 1990, the Court began to dismember and weaken the “Free Exercise Clause.” In other words, it weakened the right of Americans to freely exercise their religious beliefs with the case of Employment Division v. Smith.

In the Smith case, two counselors for a private drug rehabilitation organization ingested peyote — a powerful hallucinogen — as part of their religious ceremonies as members of the Native American Church. Consequently,  the men were fired. The counselors filed a claim for unemployment compensation but the government denied them benefits because the reason given for their dismissal was “work-related misconduct.” The men appealed the denial of benefits, arguing that they were denied because of their culture and their religion; they claimed the denial was a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.

The question presented to the Court was whether a state can deny unemployment benefits to a worker fired for using illegal drugs for religious purposes?  And the Court concluded that it certainly can. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, observed that the Court has never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that government is free to regulate. Allowing exceptions to every state law or regulation affecting religion “would open the prospect of constitutionally required exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind.” Scalia cited as examples compulsory military service, payment of taxes, vaccination requirements, and child-neglect laws.

While it may seem that the Smith decision is a good one, it actually can be taken very broadly, meaning that the government could burden religious exercise if it did so with a law that was generally applicable (doesn’t target any one group) and did not specifically target religion. In other words, Smith suggests that officials may burden the exercise of one’s faith as long as that wasn’t the point or intent of the law and the law applies equally to everyone.

And just this year, the Supreme Court was asked to correct course in its latest religious liberty case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. In Fulton, the Court examined whether the city of Philadelphia could force Catholic Social Services (CSS), which had provided foster care services to city children for more than a century, to violate its religious beliefs about marriage in order to continue its ministry of service. This is a case of unconstitutional government abuse and coercion.

In March 2018, the City of Philadelphia barred Catholic Social Services from placing children in foster homes because of its policy of not licensing same-sex couples to be foster parents. CSS sued the city of Philadelphia, asking the court to order the city to renew their contract. CSS argued that its right to free exercise of religion and free speech entitled it to reject qualified same-sex couples because they were same-sex couples, rather than for any reason related to their qualifications to care for children. The district court denied CSS’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and the Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the City’s non-discrimination policy was a neutral, generally applicable law and that CSS had not demonstrated that the City targeted CSS for its religious beliefs or was motivated by ill will against its religion.

In a majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court held that the refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless CSS agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. All nine justices agreed on that conclusion. Thankfully, the decision of the Court now means that the government cannot prioritize secular interests over religious ones when granting policy exemption. But that’s about as far as the case went. Fulton gave the Supreme Court an excellent opportunity to overturn Smith and restore the longstanding founding principle that the government cannot prohibit or burden the free exercise of religion absent an extremely compelling reason. Unfortunately, a majority of the justices stopped short of making that ultimate decision.

Instead of overturning the Smith opinion (sadly, keeping it in place), the Supreme Court should have followed Justice Samuel Alito’s 77-page concurring opinion in Fulton. As he explained in that concurrence, the Court should abandon Smith because its toleration for any rule that categorically prohibits religious activity, so long as it doesn’t target religion specifically, is fundamentally at odds with the text, intent, and interpretation of the First Amendment. Instead, as Alliance Defending Freedom and NC Family believes, the Court should recognize that the Free Exercise Clause protects the rights of Americans to freely practice their religion and to live according to their faith. If the government imposes a law that burdens free exercise, it needs to have an interest of the highest order and it needs to be as least burdensome on religious liberty as possible.

Hopefully, the Court will take up that question sometime soon.

Luckily, Smith was overturned legislatively when Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was introduced by then-Congressman Chuck Schumer and Senator Ted Kennedy (imagine that!!) and signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. RFRA restored, by statute, the same protections for religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights prior to Employment Division v. Smith. According to RFRA, the federal government cannot burden a person’s exercise of religion unless it has a compelling interest to do so (meaning, an interest of the highest order) and places as little a burden on the person’s religious rights as possible. Twenty-three states followed suit by adding RFRA to their own state laws so that in those states, there is protection against federal, state, and local government attempts to burden religious exercise. North Carolina was not one of those states.

Over the past thirty years, RFRA has protected Americans in their free exercise of religion from government abuse and overreach. But this once-bipartisan effort to protect religious freedom has become a stumbling block for the application of progressive far-left policies. This, perhaps, explains why Congressional Democrats have been pushing the “Equality Act,” which clearly threatens to cancel much of RFRA’s protections. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would force acceptance of the new progressive sexual orientation and gender identity ideology while explicitly removing protections for people of faith that the Act provided.

The Equality Act, which passed the US House on February 25, 2021, prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

It also expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services. And it prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity. Finally, the bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.


Proponents of the Equality Act continue in their effort to push it through the US Senate (it was placed on the Senate calendar in early 2021 but has not yet come up for a vote). If it passes, God forbid, religious organizations, including schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and even churches, could face lawsuits and potential liability just for adhering to their teachings on marriage and sexuality, teachings that the Supreme Court itself said were based on “decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.”

Sadly, the federal Equality Act is not the only piece of legislation being proposed by the liberal left in Congress to significantly weaken the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Religious liberty today relies primarily on the First Amendment’s Free Exercise (of Religion) Clause and on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). But those who grew up in the 1940’s thru the 1960’s probably can best attest to the fact that these protections have been chiseled away and can attest to the significant changes in society and in morality as a result of these erosions of our basic rights.

Unfortunately, the Free Exercise Clause no longer fully protects religious practices from government-imposed burdens. And liberal politicians have threatened to gut part of RFRA’s vital protections in order that they can usher in further social change.

NC Family explains the challenges that Religious Liberty faces today (and a good majority of them have been defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF):

  • Creative professionals are forced to celebrate and even participate in events that violate their deepest beliefs about marriage. For example, we all remember Jack Phillips, the Colorado cake artist and owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, who politely declined to design a cake celebrating the marriage of a same-sex male couple. He serves everyone in his shop, but as a cake “designer” and artist, he, in good conscience, cannot and design and create a cake expressing any message that goes against his deeply-held religious beliefs.  He is famous for winning his case against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its outright hostility and discrimination of him because of his Christian beliefs, is once again being sued for declining to design a special cake for a transgender individual. Leftists are determined to ruin him, his reputation, put him into bankruptcy, and destroy his bakeshop. And then there is Barronelle Stutzman, a floral design artist in Washington state, who has suffered eight years of litigation and could very well lose her florist business and life savings because she politely declined, based on her religion convictions, to participate in and design custom floral arrangements celebrating the same-sex wedding ceremony of a customer  and friend she had served well for nearly ten years.
  • COVID policies treated houses of worship more harshly than secular businesses. For example, Calvary Church Dayton Valley, as well as thousands of other churches were treated more severely than many secular gatherings by many of the states’ COVID-19 executive orders.
  • Students and employees are punished for exercising their religious values and for sharing their religious views.  (1) Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kevin Cochran, a highly-decorated fireman, was suspended and fired after leftist activists who didn’t agree with his views on traditional marriage complained about a men’s devotional book he had written on the topic, on his own personal time.  (2) Jack Denton, the president of the Florida State University Student Senate, was harassed and removed from his position for sharing his personal religious beliefs in private text conversations with other students.
  • Nonprofit groups are excluded from publicly-available benefits because they are religious (offends the “Wall of Separation of Church and State”). For example, a pre-school operated by Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia was denied a grant by the state of Missouri to provide materials for a safe playground solely because the pre-school was run by a church. (The school filed a lawsuit and won!) And in Montana, private schools were denied funds when a Montana court tried to shut down the State’s tuition tax credit program because parents, God forbid, might choose religious schools
  • Religious organizations are discriminated against by the government for having policies that align with their religious beliefs. For example, adoption and foster care agencies, New Hope Family Services, and Catholic Charities West Michigan face closure for the sole reason that their faith-based policies prioritizing the placement of children in homes with a married mother and father.

[Reference:  “Religious Liberty: First or Fading Freedom?”, by Greg Chafuen, NC Family]

There is some good news, however. The US Supreme Court has vindicated the rights of religious American citizens in a series of landmark decisions over the last five years. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal group that defends religious freedom, free speech, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and God’s design for marriage and family (which won the case for Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop), has won 13 significant victories at the Supreme Court in the past ten years and many more victories to protect and preserve religious liberty in lower courts all around the country.

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer (2017) and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018) are just two of the “landmark” Supreme Court opinions.

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) operates a licensed preschool and daycare called The Learning Center that was initially opened as a non-profit corporation but merged with Trinity in 1985. The Learning Center has an open admissions policy and incorporates daily religious instruction into its programs. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants that provide funds for qualifying organizations to purchase recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. Trinity applied for such a grant but was denied because Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution states, “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.” Trinity sued and argued that the denial of its application violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court granted Missouri DNR Director Pauley’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and Trinity moved for reconsideration and to amend its complaint to include allegations that such grants had previously been given to religious organizations. The district court denied the motions, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. Trinity appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The question presented to the Court asked whether the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.  The Supreme Court agreed and found in favor of Trinity. The opinion explained that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is one that highlights extreme and outright hostility to religion. The LGBTQ community has demanded “tolerance and inclusion” for years, urging Christians to accept them and their lifestyle. And for the most part, they have. Yet, the LGBTQ community, at least in this case, showed an outright hostility and an intolerance to Jack Phillips’ religious beliefs.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop, and in particular, its owner and cake artist, Jack Phillips, was targeted with particular enthusiasm and determination by the progressive left. In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO, and requested that Phillips design and create a cake for their wedding. (Note that it was against the law in Colorado for Craig and Mullins to marry and so they went to Massachusetts for the ceremony). Phillips declined, in a very polite way to do so on the grounds that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his deeply-held religious beliefs. Phillips believes that decorating cakes is a form of art through which he can honor God and that it would displease God to create cakes for same-sex marriages. He offered them one of the other cakes that were made in the shop, but they were not interested.

Craig and Mullins filed charges of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), enacted in 2014. After the Division issued a notice of determination finding probable cause, Craig and Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts alleging that Masterpiece discriminated against them in a place of public accommodation in violation of CADA. The Alliance Defending Freedom defense team, agreeing to take the case, argued that the CCRD seemed determined to go after him for his Christian values when the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act recognized exceptions for several individuals and organizations. These exceptions were free to decline to serve clients whose message offended them.

The Administrative Law Judge found in favor of Craig and Mullins and then the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. Phillips appealed the case to the US Supreme Court.

The issue presented to the Court was this: Does the application of Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel a cake maker to design and make a cake that violates his sincerely-held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage violate the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment? The Supreme Court reversed the ruling, in a 7-2 decision, holding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s conduct in evaluating a cake shop owner’s reasons for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violated the Free Exercise Clause. In the opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that that while gay persons and same-sex couples are afforded civil rights protections under the laws and the Constitution, religious and philosophical objections to same-sex marriage are protected views and can also be protected forms of expression. The Colorado law at issue in this case, which prohibited discrimination against gay people in purchasing products and services, had to be applied in a neutral manner with regard to religion. The majority acknowledged that from Phillips’ perspective, creating cakes was a form of artistic expression and a component of his sincere religious beliefs. The ultimate decision of the Court failed to answer the fundamental issue – Does a state law that compels a cake maker to design a cake that violates his sincerely-held religious beliefs violate his First Amendment religious right to free exercise? The Court found in Jack Phillips’ favor on the issue of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s animus in going after him and Masterpiece on account of his religious beliefs.

There are many more cases involving threats to religious liberty in the courts now and every indication suggests that these cases will proliferate as officials try to keep religious people, churches, and organizations from freely living out their faith.

Evil does not come at us dressed up with a sign that says “I am evil.” Evil comes at us seductively, in an appearance that appears freakish or satanic, dressed in provocative outfits, spouting half-truths. It sounds good and makes sense — until you peel off the veneer and expose it for what it is. The data shows how our society has declined, rapidly, in the wake of the Court’s decisions to remove religion from our schools and from the public arena.

In a famous 1791 educational policy paper, Dr. Benjamin Rush offered numerous reasons by the Bible should never be taken out of American schools. He even warned: “In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, if we remove the Bible from schools, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them.”

Rush knew that if religious teachings were excluded from education, widespread misbehavior would result, and the increase in crime would become a national problem. Yet today, the First Amendment now prohibits what it once protected – the inclusion of religious principles in public education.

Noah Webster provides additional corroboration of the Founders’ views on this subject. Webster today is primarily known only as an educator (his impact on education was so profound that he has been titled the “Schoolmaster to America”), yet he was also a Founding Father, serving as a soldier during the Revolutionary War and a legislator and judge afterwards. He was one of the first Founders to call for the Constitutional Convention (in Philadelphia, in 1787) and was personally responsible for specific wording in the Constitution. In a textbook he authored for public schools, Webster informed students: “All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

Very simply put, the Founders understood the numerous societal benefits produced by Biblical precepts and values and had no intention of expunging those principles from the public square. They even believed that American government would not function properly if separated from religious principles. As John Adams explained: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The Founding Fathers had specifically forewarned of the adverse effects of excluding religious influences from the public arena. Recall that Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, Bill of Rights’ signer John Adams, and Speaker of the House Robert Winthrop had specifically warned that if the public teaching of the Bible were restricted, crime and violent behavior would escalate. It is therefore not surprising that there have been measurable societal changes in the wake of the Court’s rulings.

For example, following the Court’s 1962-1963 decisions to exclude basic religious teachings from students, violent crime increased 700 percent, with metal detectors and uniformed police officers becoming a normal part of the student educational experience. In fact, crime so exploded among junior high students that the federal government began separate tracking of murders, assaults, and rapes committed by students ages 10-14 (significantly, none of these categories of statistics existed before the Court’s decisions). That is, these crimes occurred so infrequently that separate monitoring of these problems was unnecessary. Yet, despite these alarming trends and burgeoning increases in violent crime among students, they still cannot be permitted to see words such as “do not steal” or “do not kill,” or even teachings such as the Golden Rule or the Good Samaritan because God forbid, they just might obey those teachings. That would be unconstitutional and it also might cause them psychological harm.

The senselessness of this public-school policy became apparent to Colorado’s State Board of Education following the frightful school shootings at Columbine. After serious introspection in the wake of that incomprehensible tragedy, the Board issued a letter openly acknowledging:

       “As we seek the why behind this infamous event, we must find answers beyond the easy and obvious. How weapons become used for outlaw purposes is assuredly a relevant issue, yet our society’s real problem is how human behavior sinks to utter and depraved indifference to the sanctity of life. As our country promotes academic literacy, we must promote moral literacy as well…… Our tragedy is but the latest, albeit the most terrifying and costly, of a steadily escalating series of schoolhouse horrors that have swept across the nation. The senseless brutality of these calamities clearly reveals that a dangerous subculture of amoral violence has taken hold among many of our youth….  We must remember, respect, and unashamedly take pride in the fact that our schools, like our country, found their origin and draw their strength from the faith-based morality that is at the heart of our national character. Today our schools have become so fearful of affirming one religion or one value over another that they have banished them all. In doing so, they have abdicated their historic role in the moral formation of youth and thereby alienated themselves from our people’s deep spiritual sensibilities. To leave this disconnection between society and its schools unaddressed is an open invitation to further divisiveness and decline. For the sake of our children, who are so dependent upon a consistent and unified message from the adult world, we must solve these dilemmas….”

The liberal Left has a real problem…. a religion problem. The lack of religion on the Left, and its feverish push to demonize religion in general means that the Left approaches moral issues differently than conservatives. The liberal Left approaches such issues as abortion, gay marriage, gender fluidity, transgenderism, the sexualization of children, public prayer, the Ten Commandments, Christian symbols, etc without respect, without deference, and with total hostility. The Left cannot achieve their progressive agenda and their social change as long as Americans can still “cling to their religion.”

Luckily, defenders of religious liberty continue to stand and fight for their rights under the First Amendment.

I dare to think what would happen if God were to send down his Ten Commandments today. I believe that there would be a great condescending laughter from the left. And what if Christ were sent to us today. I’m absolutely sure he would be labeled a racist, a supremist, a xenophobe, a bigot, and a misogynist. Would his teachings be accepted? Would he be able to start a church today? 

References:

Greg Chafuen, “Religious Liberty: First or Fading Freedom,” NCFamily.org, Fall 2021.

David Barton, Separation of Church and State: What the Founders Meant, Wallbuilders, Library of Congress (2007).

Bill McCormick, SJ, “Why Does the Left Have a Religion Problem?” The Jesuit Post, April 25, 2017.  Referenced at:  https://thejesuitpost.org/2017/04/why-does-the-left-have-a-religion-problem/

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1878)  –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1850-1900/98us145

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 S.Ct. 1 (1947) –  https://law.justia.com/cases/rhode-island/supreme-court/1961/176-a-2d-73-0.html

Engel v. Vitale, 370 S.Ct. 421 (1962) –  https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/370/421

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 S.Ct. 203 (1963) –  https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/374/203/

James Rogers, “The Most Hated Woman in America,” US History Scene.  Referenced at:  https://ushistoryscene.com/article/madalyn-murray-ohair/

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 597 U.S. ___ (2022) –  https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/21-418_i425.pdf

Amy Howe, “Justices Side With High School Football Coach Who Prayed on the Field With Students,” Scotusblog, June 27, 2022. Referenced at:  https://www.scotusblog.com/2022/06/justices-side-with-high-school-football-coach-who-prayed-on-the-field-with-students/

Employment Division v. Smith, 494 S.Ct. 872 (1990) –  https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, 593 S.Ct ____ (2021) –  https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-123_g3bi.pdf

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017) – https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-577_khlp.pdf

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 S.Ct ____ (2018) – https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/584/16-111/#tab-opinion-3910082

Engel v. Vitale, 370 S.Ct. 421 (1962), oyez –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1961/468

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 S.Ct. 203 (1963), oyez –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1962/142

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, 597 U.S. ___ (2022), oyez – https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/21-418

Employment Division v. Smith, 494 S.Ct. 872 (1990), oyez –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/1989/88-1213

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, 593 S.Ct ____ (2021), oyez  –  https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-123

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S. Ct. 2012 (2017), oyez – https://www.oyez.org/cases/2016/15-577

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 S.Ct ____ (2018)  – https://www.oyez.org/cases/2017/16-111

APPENDIX

A.  ENGEL v. VITALE

FACTS:  The New York State Board of Regents authorized a short, voluntary prayer for recitation at the start of each school day. A group of organizations joined forces in challenging the prayer, claiming that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The New York Court of Appeals rejected their arguments.

QUESTION PRESENTED:  “The question presented by this case was an extremely narrow one – whether New

York oversteps its constitutional bounds when it finances a religious exercise. Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the “Establishment of Religion” clause of the First Amendment?

COURT OPINION:  The state cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if participation is not required and the prayer is not tied to a particular religion.

In an opinion authored by Hugo L. Black, the Court held that respondent’s decision to use its school system to facilitate recitation of the official prayer violated the Establishment Clause. Specifically, the policy breached the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. The Court ruled that the constitutional prohibition of laws establishing religion meant that government had no business drafting formal prayers for any segment of its population to repeat in a government-sponsored religious program. The Court held that respondent’s provision of the contested daily prayer was inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.

Justice Douglas concurred in the judgment on the ground that the state’s financing a religious exercise violated the First Amendment.

Justice Stewart dissented, arguing that no “official religion” was established by permitting those who want to say a prayer to say it.

The following are excerpts of the concurring opinion written by Justice William O.

Douglas:

“Plainly, our Bill of Rights would not permit a State or the Federal Government to adopt an official prayer and penalize anyone who would not utter it. This, however, is not that case, for there is no element of compulsion or coercion in New York’s regulation . . . The [school district] adopted a regulation which provides that ‘Neither teachers nor any school authority shall comment on participation or non-participation . . . nor suggest or request that any posture or language be used or dress be worn or be not used or not work.’ Provision is also made for

excusing children, upon written request of a parent or guardian, from the saying of the prayer or from the room in which the prayer is said . . . As I read this regulation, a child is free to stand or not stand, to recite or not recite, without fear of reprisal or even comment by the teacher or any other school official. In short, the only one who need utter the prayer is the teacher; and no teacher is complaining of it. Students can stand mute or even leave the classroom, if they desire.”

“In New York, the teacher who leads in prayer is on the public payroll, and the time she takes seems minuscule. Yet, for me, the principle is the same, no matter how briefly the prayer is said, for, in each of the instances given, the person praying is a public official on the public payroll, performing a religious exercise in a governmental institution. It is said that the element of coercion is inherent in the giving of this prayer. If that is true here, it is also true of the prayer with which this Court is convened, and of those that open the Congress. Few adults, let alone children, would leave our courtroom or the Senate or the House while those prayers are being given. Every such audience is in a sense a ‘captive’ audience.”

“At the same time, I cannot say that to authorize this prayer is to establish a religion in the strictly historic meaning of those words. A religion is not established in the usual sense merely by letting those who choose to do so say the prayer that the public school teacher leads. Yet once government finances a religious exercise, it inserts a divisive influence into our communities.”

“Under our Bill of Rights free play is given for making religion an active force in our lives. But ‘if a religious leaven is to be worked into the affairs of our people, it is to be done by individuals and groups, not by the Government.’ [citing another First Amendment case, McGowan v. Maryland]”

“The First Amendment leaves the Government in a position not of hostility to religion but of neutrality . . . The philosophy is that if government interferes in matters spiritual, it will be a divisive force. The First Amendment teaches that a government neutral in the field of religion

B.  ABINGTON SCHOOL DISTRICT v. SCHEMPP

FACTS:  Under Pennsylvania law, public schools were required to read from the bible at the opening of each school day. The school district sought to enjoin enforcement of the statute. The district court ruled that the statute violated the First Amendment, even after the statute had been amended to permit a student to excuse himself.

The Court consolidated this case with one involving Maryland atheists who challenged a city rule that provided for opening exercises in the public schools that consisted primarily of reading a chapter from the bible and the Lord’s Prayer. The state’s highest court held the exercise did not violate the First Amendment. The religious character of the exercise was admitted by the state.

QUESTION PRESENTED:  Did the Pennsylvania law requiring public school students to participate in classroom religious exercises violate the religious freedom of students as protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

COURT OPINION:  Public schools cannot sponsor Bible readings and recitations of the Lord’s Prayer under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

In an opinion authored by Justice Clark, the majority concluded that, in both cases, the laws required religious exercises and such exercises directly violated the First Amendment. The Court affirmed the Pennsylvania decision, and reversed and remanded the Maryland decision because the mandatory reading from the bible before school each day was found to be unconstitutional.

Justice Stewart dissented, expressing the view that on the records it could not be said that the Establishment Clause had necessarily been violated. He would remand both cases for further hearings.

The following are excerpts of the concurring opinion written by Justice Clark (joined by Chief Justice Earl Warren and Justices Black, Douglas, White, Harlan, Brennan, and Goldberg):

. . . The wholesome “neutrality” [of government toward religion] of which this Court’s cases speak . . . stems from a recognition of the teachings of history that powerful sects or groups might bring about a fusion of governmental and religious functions or a concert or dependency of one upon the other to the end that official support of the State or Federal Government would be placed behind the tenets of one or of all orthodoxies. This the Establishment Clause prohibits. And a further reason for neutrality is found in the Free Exercise Clause, which recognizes the value of religious training, teaching and observance and, more particularly, the right of every person to freely choose his own course with reference thereto, free of any compulsion from the state. This the Free Exercise Clause guarantees. Thus . . . the two clauses may overlap. . . . The test may be stated as follows: what are the purpose and the primary effect of the enactment? If either is the advancement or inhibition of religion, then the enactment exceeds the scope of legislative power as circumscribed by the Constitution. . . . [T]here must be a secular legislative purpose and a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion. The Free Exercise Clause . . . withdraws from legislative power, state and federal, the exertion of any restraint on the free exercise of religion. Its purpose is to secure religious liberty in the individual by prohibiting any invasions thereof by civil authority. Hence it is necessary in a free exercise case for one to show the coercive effect of the enactment as it operates against him in the practice of his religion. The distinction between the two clauses is apparent—a violation of the Free Exercise Clause is predicated on coercion while the Establishment Clause violation need not be so attended.

Applying the Establishment Clause principles to the cases at bar, we find that . . . such an opening exercise [readings from the Bible and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer] is a religious ceremony and was intended by the State to be so. . . . Given that finding, the exercises and the law requiring them are in violation of the Establishment Clause.

. . . [T]he State contends . . . that the program is an effort to extend its benefits to all public school children without regard to their religious belief. Included within its secular purposes, it says, are the promotion of moral values, the contradiction to the materialistic trends of our times, the perpetuation of our institutions and the teaching of literature. . . . The short answer . . . is that the religious character of the exercise was admitted by the State. But even if its purpose is not strictly religious, it is sought to be accomplished through readings, without comment, from the Bible. Surely the place of the Bible as an instrument of religion cannot be gainsaid, and the State’s recognition of the pervading religious character of the ceremony is evident from the rule’s specific permission . . . permitting nonattendance at the exercises. None of these factors is consistent with the contention that the Bible is here used either as an instrument for nonreligious moral inspiration or as a reference for the teaching of secular subjects.

The conclusion follows that, in both cases, the laws require religious exercises, and such exercises are being conducted in direct violation of the rights of the appellees and petitioners. Nor are these required exercises mitigated by the fact that individual students may absent themselves upon parental request, for that fact furnishes no defense to a claim of unconstitutionality under the Establishment Clause. Further, it is no defense to urge that the religious practices here may be relatively minor encroachments on the First Amendment. The breach of neutrality that is today a trickling stream may all too soon become a raging torrent and, in the words of [James] Madison, “it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties” (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments).

It is insisted that, unless these religious exercises are permitted, a “religion of secularism” is established in the schools. We agree, of course, that the State may not establish a “religion of secularism” in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus “preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe” (Zorach v. Clauson). We do not agree, however, that this decision in any sense has that effect. In addition, it might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment. But the exercises here do not fall into those categories. They are religious exercises, required by the States in violation of the command of the First Amendment that the Government maintain strict neutrality, neither aiding nor opposing religion.

Finally, we cannot accept that the concept of neutrality, which does not permit a State to require a religious exercise even with the consent of the majority of those affected, collides with the majority’s right to free exercise of religion. While the Free Exercise Clause clearly prohibits the use of state action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone, it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the State to practice its beliefs. . . .

The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality. Though the application of that rule requires interpretation of a delicate sort, the rule itself is clearly and concisely stated in the words of the First Amendment. Applying that rule to the facts of these cases, we affirm the judgment. . . ..

Justice DOUGLAS, concurring.

. . . [T]he Establishment Clause is not limited to precluding the State itself from conducting religious exercises. It also forbids the State to employ its facilities or funds in a way that gives any church, or all churches, greater strength in our society than it would have by relying on its members alone. Thus, the present regimes must fall under that clause for the additional reason that public funds, though small in amount, are being used to promote a religious exercise. Through the mechanism of the State, all of the people are being required to finance a religious exercise that only some of the people want and that violates the sensibilities of others.

The most effective way to establish any institution is to finance it, and this truth is reflected in the appeals by church groups for public funds to finance their religious schools. Financing a church either in its strictly religious activities or in its other activities is equally unconstitutional, as I understand the Establishment Clause. Budgets for one activity may be technically separable from budgets for others. But the institution is an inseparable whole, a living organism, which is strengthened in proselytizing when it is strengthened in any department by contributions from other than its own members.

Such contributions may not be made by the State even in a minor degree without violating the Establishment Clause. It is not the amount of public funds expended; as this case illustrates, it is the use to which public funds are put that is controlling. For the First Amendment does not say that some forms of establishment are allowed; it says that “no law respecting an establishment of religion” shall be made. What may not be done directly may not be done indirectly, lest the Establishment Clause become a mockery.

History of Religion in Schools (excerpt from the Supreme Court opinion in Abington):

It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America. The Book of Common Prayer, which was created under governmental direction and which was approved by Acts of Parliament in 1548 and 1549,5 set out in minute detail the accepted form and content of prayer and other religious ceremonies to be used in the established, tax-supported Church of England.6 The controversies over the Book and what should be its content repeatedly threatened to disrupt the peace of that country as the accepted forms of prayer in the established church changed with the views of the particular ruler that happened to be in control at the time.7 Powerful groups representing some of the varying religious views of the people struggled among themselves to impress their particular views upon the Government and obtain amendments of the Book more suitable to their respective notions of how religious services should be conducted in order that the official religious establishment would advance their particular religious beliefs.8 Other groups, lacking the necessary political power to influence the Government on the matter, decided to leave England and its established church and seek freedom in America from England’s governmentally ordained and supported religion.

By the time of the adoption of the Constitution, our history shows that there was a widespread awareness among many Americans of the dangers of a union of Church and State. These people knew, some of them from bitter personal experience, that one of the greatest dangers to the freedom of the individual to worship in his own way lay in the Government’s placing its official stamp of approval upon one particular kind of prayer or one particular form of religious services. They knew the anguish, handship and bitter strife that could come when zealous religious groups struggled with one another to obtain the Government’s stamp of approval from each King, Queen, or Protector that came to temporary power. The Constitution was intended to avert a part of this danger by leaving the government of this country in the hands of the people rather than in the hands of any monarch. But this safeguard was not enough. Out Founders were no more willing to let the content of their prayers and their privilege of praying whenever they pleased be influenced by the ballot box than they were to let these vital matters of personal conscience depend upon the succession of monarchs. The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say— that the people’s religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office. Under that Amendment’s prohibition against governmental establishment of religion, as reinforced by the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, government in this country, be it state or federal, is without power to prescribe by law any particular form of prayer which is to be used as an official prayer in carrying on any program of governmentally sponsored religious activity.

There can be no doubt that New York’s state prayer program officially establishes the religious beliefs embodied in the Regents’ prayer. The respondents’ argument to the contrary, which is largely based upon the contention that the Regents’ prayer is ‘nondenominational’ and the fact that the program, as modified and approved by state courts, does not require all pupils to recite the prayer but permits those who wish to do so to remain silent or be excused from the room, ignores the essential nature of the program’s constitutional defects. Neither the fact that the prayer may be denominationally neutral nor the fact that its observance on the part of the students is voluntary can serve to free it from the limitations of the Establishment Clause, as it might from the Free Exercise Clause, of the First Amendment, both of which are operative against the States by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although these two clauses may in certain instances overlap, they forbid two quite different kinds of governmental encroachment upon religious freedom. The Establishment Clause, unlike the Free Exercise Clause, does not depend upon any showing of direct governmental compulsion and is violated by the enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether those laws operate directly to coerce non-observing individuals or not. This is not to say, of course, that laws officially prescribing a particular form of religious worship do not involve coercion of such individuals. When the power, prestige and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain. But the purposes underlying the Establishment Clause go much further than that. Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion. The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs. That same history showed that many people had lost their respect for any religion that had relied upon the support for government to spread its faith. The Establishment Clause thus stands as an expression of principle on the part of the Founders of our Constitution that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its ‘unhallowed perversion’ by a civil magistrate. Another purpose of the Establishment Clause rested upon an awareness of the historical fact that governmentally established religions and religious persecutions go hand in hand. The Founders knew that only a few years after the Book of Common Prayer became the only accepted form of religious services in the established Church of England, an Act of Uniformity was passed to compel all Englishmen to attend those services and to make it a criminal offense to conduct or attend religious gatherings of any other kind—a law which was consistently flouted by dissenting religious groups in England and which contributed to widespread persecutions of people like John Bunyan who persisted in holding ‘unlawful (religious) meetings… to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom…” And they knew that similar persecutions had received the sanction of law in several of the colonies in this country soon after the establishment of official religions in those colonies. It was in large part to get completely away from this sort of systematic religious persecution that the Founders brought into being our Nation, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights with its prohibition against any governmental establishment of religion. The New York laws officially prescribing the Regents’ prayer are inconsistent both with the purposes of the Establishment Clause and with the Establishment Clause itself.

It has been argued that to apply the Constitution in such a way as to prohibit state laws respecting an establishment of religious services in public schools is to indicate a hostility toward religion or toward prayer. Nothing, or course, could be more wrong. The history of man is inseparable from the history of religion. And perhaps it is not too much to say that since the beginning of that history many people have devoutly believed that ‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.’ It was doubtless largely due to men who believed this that there grew up a sentiment that caused men to leave the cross-currents of officially established state religions and religious persecution in Europe and come to this country filled with the hope that they could find a place in which they could pray when they pleased to the God of their faith in the language they chose. And there were men of this same faith in the power of prayer who led the fight for adoption of our Constitution and also for our Bill of Rights with the very guarantees of religious freedom that forbid the sort of governmental activity which New York has attempted here. These men knew that the First Amendment, which tried to put an end to governmental control of religion and of prayer, was not written to destroy either. They knew rather that it was written to quiet well-justified fears which nearly all of them felt arising out of an awareness that governments of the past had shackled men’s tongues to make them speak only the religious thoughts that government wanted them to speak and to pray only to the God that government wanted them to pray to. It is neither sacrilegious nor antireligious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance.

It is true that New York’s establishment of its Regents’ prayer as an officially approved religious doctrine of that State does not amount to a total establishment of one particular religious sect to the exclusion of all others—that, indeed, the governmental endorsement of that prayer seems relatively insignificant when compared to the governmental encroachments upon religion which were commonplace 200 years ago. To those who may subscribe to the view that because the Regents’ official prayer is so brief and general there can be no danger to religious freedom in its governmental establishment, however, it may be appropriate to say in the words of James Madison, the author of the First Amendment: “’It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties.”

C.  MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP v. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION

FACTS:  In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO, and requested that its owner, Jack C. Phillips, design and create a cake for their wedding. Phillips declined to do so on the grounds that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs. Phillips believes that decorating cakes is a form of art through which he can honor God and that it would displease God to create cakes for same-sex marriages.

Craig and Mullins filed charges of discrimination with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), §§ 24-34-301 to -804, C.R.S. 2014. After the Division issued a notice of determination finding probable cause, Craig and Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts alleging that Masterpiece discriminated against them in a place of public accommodation in violation of CADA.

The Administrative Law Judge issued a written order finding in favor of Craig and Mullins, which was affirmed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the Commission’s ruling.

ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:  Does the application of Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel a cake maker to design and make a cake that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage violate the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment?

COURT OPINION:  The Court reversed in a 7-2 decision, holding that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s conduct in evaluating a cake shop owner’s reasons for declining to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violated the Free Exercise Clause.

The Court explained that while gay persons and same-sex couples are afforded civil rights protections under the laws and the Constitution, religious and philosophical objections to same-sex marriage are protected views and can also be protected forms of expression. The Colorado law at issue in this case, which prohibited discrimination against gay people in purchasing products and services, had to be applied in a neutral manner with regard to religion. The majority acknowledged that from Phillips’ perspective, creating cakes was a form of artistic expression and a component of his sincere religious beliefs.

The Court also explained that in 2012, the year that Phillips refused his services to Craig and Mullins, the law in Colorado and across the country with regard to same sex marriage was much more unsettled than it became after United States v. Windsor, 570 US 744 (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 US ___ (2015). At the time, the State Civil Rights Division had also concluded in at least three other cases that bakers had acted lawfully in declining to make cakes that included messages they disagreed with, specifically messages demeaning gay persons. Thus it was not unreasonable for Phillips to believe that he was acting lawfully at the time, and his claims before the Commission were entitled to neutral treatment.

However, the Court stated that Phillips did not receive this neutral treatment, with members of the Commission showing clear and impermissible hostility toward his religious beliefs. The Court explained that commissioners’ comments disparaging Phillips’ beliefs and characterizing them as rhetorical were inappropriate, though these comments were not mentioned or disavowed in subsequent legal proceedings. The Court concluded that these comments cast doubt on the fairness of the Commission’s consideration of Phillips’ claims. The Court also pointed out that disparities between Phillips’ case and those of other bakers with objections to making cakes with anti-gay messages, and who were victorious before the Commission, further reflected hostility toward the religious basis for Phillips’ position.

The Court concluded that the Commission’s actions violated the State’s duty under the First Amendment not to use hostility toward religion or a religious viewpoint as a basis for laws or regulations. Under the facts of this case, the Court determined that Phillips’ religious justification for his refusal to serve Craig and Mullins was not afforded the neutral treatment mandated by the Free Exercise Clause.

Justice Ginsburg authored a dissenting opinion, in which she was joined by Justice Sotomayor, stating that neither the Commission’s comments regarding Phillips’ religious views nor its alleged disparate treatment of bakers objecting to making cakes with anti-gay messages justified ruling in favor of Phillips.

Justice Kagan filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Breyer, in which she agreed with the majority that the Commission had not given neutral treatment to Phillips’ religious views, but declined to assign any significance to the Commission’s treatment of bakers who refused to create cakes with anti-gay messages because she believed that this did not violate the Colorado law at issue in Phillips’ case.

Justice Gorsuch also filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Alito, in which he argued that the cases of Phillips and the bakers who objected to using anti-gay messages in their baking were quite similar, and the Commission acted inappropriately in treating them differently.

Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, and was joined by Justice Gorsuch. Thomas argued that an order requiring Phillips to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple would violate his First Amendment rights.

D.  FULTON v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA (2021)

FACTS:  In March 2018, the City of Philadelphia barred Catholic Social Services (CSS) from placing children in foster homes because of its policy of not licensing same-sex couples to be foster parents. CSS sued the City of Philadelphia, asking the court to order the city to renew their contract. CSS argued that its right to free exercise of religion and free speech entitled it to reject qualified same-sex couples because they were same-sex couples, rather than for any reason related to their qualifications to care for children.

The district court denied CSS’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and the Third Circuit affirmed, finding that the City’s non-discrimination policy was a neutral, generally applicable law and that CSS had not demonstrated that the City targeted CSS for its religious beliefs or was motivated by ill will against its religion.

QUESTIONS PRESENTED:  (1) To succeed on their free exercise claim, must plaintiffs prove that the government would allow the same conduct by someone who held different religious views, or only provide sufficient evidence that a law is not neutral and generally applicable?  (2) Should the Court revisit its decision in Employment Division v. Smith?  (3) Does the government violate the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statements that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs?

COURT OPINION:  The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless CSS agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion of the Court.

Philadelphia’s actions burdened CSS’s religious exercise by forcing it either to curtail its mission or to certify same-sex couples as foster parents, in violation of its stated religious beliefs. Although the Court held in Employment Division v. Smith that neutral, generally applicable laws may incidentally burden religion, the Philadelphia law was not neutral and generally applicable because it allowed for exceptions to the anti-discrimination requirement at the sole discretion of the Commissioner. Additionally, CSS’s actions do not fall within public accommodations laws because certification as a foster parent is not “made available to the public” in the usual sense of the phrase. Thus, the non-discrimination requirement is subject to strict scrutiny, which requires that the government show the law is necessary to achieve a compelling government interest.

The Court pointed out that the question is not whether the City has a compelling interest in enforcing its non-discrimination policies generally, but whether it has such an interest in denying an exception to CSS. The Court concluded that it did not.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote a separate concurring opinion in which Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined and in which Justice Stephen Breyer joined as to all but the first paragraph. Justice Barrett acknowledged strong arguments for overruling Smith but agreed with the majority that the facts of the case did not trigger Smith.

Justice Samuel Alito authored an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined. Justice Alito would overrule Smith, replacing it with a rule that any law that burdens religious exercise must be subject to strict scrutiny.

Justice Gorsuch authored an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Justices Thomas and Alito joined, criticizing the majority’s circumvention of Smith.

E.  TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH OF COLUMBIA v. COMER

FACTS:  Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. (Trinity) operates a licensed preschool and daycare called The Learning Center that was initially opened as a non-profit corporation but merged with Trinity in 1985. The Learning Center has an open admissions policy and incorporates daily religious instruction into its programs. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants that provide funds for qualifying organizations to purchase recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. Trinity applied for such a grant but was denied because Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution states, “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, section or denomination of religion.” Trinity sued and argued that the denial of its application violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion and speech. The district court granted Missouri DNR Director Pauley’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and Trinity moved for reconsideration and to amend its complaint to include allegations that such grants had previously been given to religious organizations. The district court denied the motions, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal and the denial of the motions to reconsider and amend the complaint.

ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:

Does the exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause?

COURT OPINION:  The exclusion of churches from an otherwise neutral and secular aid program violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free exercise of religion. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. delivered the opinion of the 7-2 majority. The Court held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protected the freedom to practice religion and subjects laws that burden religious practice to strict scrutiny. First Amendment precedent had established that laws that deny an otherwise generally available benefit because of religious status are unconstitutional, though laws that are neutral and generally applicable may be upheld even if they hamper religion. The distinction was whether the law in question discriminates against some or all religious beliefs. In this case, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ policy of denying religious organizations from its Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grants violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause because it discriminated against otherwise eligible organizations based solely on their religious character. The law did not need to prevent the religious organization from practicing its religious; it was sufficient that the law denied a religious organization the same opportunity to compete for a benefit that is otherwise available to all secular organizations. Because the state’s interest in using this policy was simply to draw a wide berth around religious establishment concerns, it was not a sufficiently compelling interest.

In his opinion concurring in part, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment clearly prohibited laws that facially discriminate against religion. To the extent that precedent suggested that a state may “disfavor” religion by placing minor burdens on religion in order to avoid state entanglement with religion, that precedent should be construed narrowly and did not apply in this case. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined in the opinion concurring in part. Justice Gorsuch wrote a separate opinion concurring in part in which he argued that the majority opinion’s suggested distinction between laws that discriminate based on religious status and those that do so based on religious use was untenable and unsupported by the Free Exercise Clause. Additionally, the majority opinion’s footnote that limited the opinion to addressing “express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing” risked making the opinion too case-specific and not based on general principles. Justice Thomas joined in the opinion concurring in part. In his separate opinion concurring in the judgment, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that the First Amendment was clearly not meant to prevent religious organizations from accessing government-provided benefits such as police and fire services. The benefit here was for the health and safety of children and therefore was in the same class of government-provided services that religious organizations should be able to access.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent in which she argued that this case raised serious Establishment Clause concerns. The majority opinion required a state to directly fund a religious organization in a manner that assisted the spread of its religious message and views. This was precisely the sort of direct connection between church and state that the Establishment Clause was intended to prevent, as shown by extensive history of state disestablishment. Therefore, a prophylactic rule to prevent state funding of religious organizations was permissible, and many states had one. The majority opinion erroneously called this decision discriminatory when it was actually a legitimate choice for states to make to avoid entanglement with religion. Even under the Free Exercise Clause, the doctrine allowed states to make exceptions to generally applicable laws based on an organization’s status as religious. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined in the dissent.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Suggestions As to How to Fix Our Public School System

by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2022

It has been said that if education doesn’t solve a problem, then it is a problem. And if the educated cannot solve problems, then they are the problem.

The problem right now is that education – public education, particularly – isn’t solving some of the problems that we have right now – to truly educate our next generations, to instill a sense of patriotism and love of country, to prepare our children for college and for life in general, to offer them the option of learning a trade (to fill the great voids that we have), to teach them the importance of hard work and pride in one’s work, and very importantly, the basic skills to work at a job without having gone to college.

Sadly, at least in the South, the large community schools are organized like a factory of the late 19th century – top down, command control management, a system designed to stifle creativity and independent intellectual growth. Schools today seem more focused on setting our next generations of college students, community members, and fellow citizens on a path of social change rather than provide them with a robust, solid, sound and basic education (like the education provided back in the 1950’s – 1970’s).

We, as a collection of state citizens and in general as Americans, need to fix the public school system. We need to transform it back to one of “education” and not indoctrination or one of social counseling.

Here are several suggestions that I believe would help greatly to improve the public school system:

  • State Constitutions and State Laws Need to Be Changed or Amended to Divest Authority for the Control and Administration of Education From a State Board of Education in Favor of Local Boards of Education
  • The Members of All Boards of Education (State and Local) Shall Be Elected By the People. (Aside from the election results, boards of education should not be a partisan government body)
  • Stop Viewing Students as Numbers (they are individuals)
  • Get Rid of Common Core
  • Do Not Accept Federal Funding for Anything Related to the Instruction of Content Material in the Classroom. (the US DOE is unconstitutional; federal spending on education is unconstitutional, per Article I, Section 8. Education is the responsibility of each State, starting with the state legislature)
  • Get Back to the Basic Education System of Math, Science, Reading, Writing, History, Social Studies, etc (“a robust sound, basic education” system)
  • Get Rid of Non-Value-Added school policies and doctrines (such as CRT, SEL, gender identity, gender fluidity, transgenderism, the LBGTQ agenda, panorama surveys, alternative sex education, pornography and inappropriate themes in required reading and in school libraries)
  • Prohibit the Influence of Teacher Unions and National Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the local public education systems
  • Give Homework (homework gives children the best opportunity to absorb and practice the day’s lessons)
  • Pay More Attention to Parents and Their Concerns
  • Teachers and Administrators Must NEVER Counsel Students About Their Sexual Identity or Bring Up the “Pronoun” Policy (This is a psychological issue that is best and responsibly left to the parents, professional counselors, doctors, and the church)
  • Teachers and Administrators Must Not Address or Discuss the “Transgender” or “Gender Identity” Issue to Students (Such issues naturally conflict with what they learn in Biology regarding biological/ genetic genders and will only serve to confuse them)
  • Adopt a Parents’ Bill of Rights (memorializing their rights as parents as it relates to the education of their children; refer to my suggestion at https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2022/03/29/a-parents-bill-of-rights-what-every-parent-is-entitled-to/)
  • Evaluate Teachers Often (make sure they are good, are dedicated, understand how to educate, and are effective)
  • Less Meaningless Tests (Stop “teaching to the tests”); teach students how to think and learn for themselves (No memorization)
  • Eliminate Standardized Tests (?)
  • Offer Classes to Prepare Students for Real Life (such as balancing a check book, understanding simple contracts, etc)
  • Offer a “Trade School” Option During High School for those students who have no plans to go to college
  • Teachers Must Never Make Any Student Feel Superior or Inferior (no “White Supremacy” or “Racism/Discrimination based on skin color)
  • Raise Standards for Teachers (Teaching young people how to think is far more important than teaching them what to think. Rote memorization of facts and figures may boost standardized test scores and immediately get the student a good grade, but it does not facilitate the primary goal of education, which is independent thinking which will be expected at a job and in everyday life
  • Hire Only Good Teachers. (It might be a good idea to have every “new hire” go through a probation period to make sure he or she is good enough to inspire children to think)
  • Reward Outstanding Teachers (including with pay raises and bonuses)
  • When Hiring Teachers, Make Sure There is Diversity of Thought (We stress diversity and inclusion so often these days yet when it comes to views and opinions, there is so little of it. We need conservatism back in the public school system)
  • No Politics or Controversial Topics Should Be Addressed and/or Discussed in the Public School System (unless there is a specific course, such as Debate, that would allow such material)
  • Each Day in the Public School System MUST Begin With a Moment of Silence and The Pledge to the American Flag (Schools have an obligation to foster and emphasize love of country and patriotism)
  • Put Decisions Regarding Curriculum in the Hands of the Community (don’t subject children to a curriculum designed in a place far away
  • Find Funding So That the County Can Hire Safety Officers for the Schools, or Ask for Veterans to Volunteer
  • Have the Local Boards of Education Conduct Random Unannounced Visits of County Public School Classrooms
  • There is to be no emphasis or promotion of racism in the school system. If there is to be a policy to guide children on how to view and treat one another, then it should be “The Golden Rule.” (As Derrick Wilburn told his daughter’s school board: “Let racism die the death it deserves.”)
  • Make Lessons More Engaging and Relevant (relate lessons to real life, as much as possible)

We demand that our primary and secondary schools prepare all students, regardless of background, for a lifetime of learning. We require that teachers guide every child toward a deeper understanding of the particular subject matter. And we strongly suggest that meaningful changes need to be made to the public school system in order to achieve such goals.

Businessman Robert Kiyosaki has commented: “I am concerned that too many people are focused too much on money and not on their greatest wealth, which is their education. If people are prepared to be flexible, keep an open mind and learn, they will grow richer and richer through the changes. If they think money will solve the problems, I am afraid those people will have a rough ride. Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without intelligence is money soon gone.”

In one of his articles, “The Objective of Education is Learning, Not Teaching,” author Russell Ackoff  wrote: “Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.” (Ackoff is the author of several books on education ).

References:

Diane Rufino, “A Parents’ Bill of Rights: What Every Parent is Entitled To,” ForLoveofGodandCountry’s blog, March 2022.  Referenced at:  https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2022/03/29/a-parents-bill-of-rights-what-every-parent-is-entitled-to/   

Derrick Wilburn addresses School Board of Education – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2fGVbMYp54

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Conservatives at a Crossroads in Their Relationship With Government & Big Tech

by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2022

Conservatives are at a crossroads in their relationship with big government and big tech. It is, as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it in the campaign speech he delivered on October 27, 1964 in support of Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. That memorable speech has been titled “A Time for Choosing.“ In that speech, Reagan explains that there are only two paths with respect to the role of government. One path not only requires, but champions, expanded government control of tech firms for the “greater good” of society – that is, as determined by politicians and bureaucrats. The other path relies upon competition, markets, and the rule of law to foster individual liberty and economic growth. As Reagan correctly observed, a government cannot control the economy without controlling its people. The choice before us will have immense consequences for the role of government and the rule of law for generations to come. It is important to get it right.

In that speech, he related this message:

“Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro. That refugee commented: ‘”How lucky you are to live in America and how lucky that I had someplace to escape to.’ In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

I think every American should read this speech. It was not only appropriate for the era, but as it turns out, it is prophetic and perhaps even more appropriate for the current era.

What is the role of the federal government?  It is clear that there are two divergent views on the answer to that question – one view believes the federal government exists to take care of its people, from time in the womb to grave, while the other view continues to be the view of our Founding Fathers, which is that the government needs to be limited and constrained. In fact, if one takes the time to read the US Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the debates in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, and the debates and conclusions of the individual state ratifying conventions, it is abundantly clear, that this latter view is exactly what was intended when the current American union was formed with the official adoption of the Constitution. On June 21, 1788, the Constitution became the official framework of the government of the United States of America when New Hampshire became the ninth of 13 states to ratify it (as per Article VII). Yet the union was not complete as four states had yet to ratify it (North Carolina, New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island). In fact, it wasn’t until nearly two years later, on May 29, 1790 when Rhode Island became the last state to adopt it.

It is obvious which view has prevailed over the years, and with each leftist administration, we feel the consequences of those footprints in DC. To be fair, even conservative administrations have contributed to the mess – the over-regulation and the top-down control over almost every aspect of our lives and livelihoods.

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed to a “candid world” that the “united American Colonies are, and of right, ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full (sovereign) power.” To establish legitimacy, Thomas Jefferson (and the other members of the Committee of Five), included the reasons for declaring independence (to prove that the intention of the King was to establish an absolute tyranny over the colonies). The Declaration lists these (27) reasons as follows:

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

1.  He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good;

2.  He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them;

3.  He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only;

4.  He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures;

5.  He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people;

6.  He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within;

7.  He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands;

8.  He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

9.  He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries;

10.  He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance;

11.  He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures;

12.  He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power;

13.  He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation;

14.  For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

15.  For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States;

16.  For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world;

17.  For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent;

18.  For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury;

19.  For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences;

20.  For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies;

21.  For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments;

22.  For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever;

23.  He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us;

24.  He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people;

25.  He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation;

26.  He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands;

27.  He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

I dare say that these “Facts” that were submitted rival some of the same facts that could easily be noted and submitted today. Our current bloated and unrestrained government (yes, “tyrannical”) is causing a stir among American patriots – ones who appreciate and take refuge in the system, the notions, and the values and principles of our Founding Fathers. There is talk of nullification, of an Article V Constitutional Convention, of revolution, of separation, and yes, even of secession. Apparently, the revolutionary spirit that guided the American colonies to seek independence from Great Britain in order to establish their own founding values and their own governments is re-kindled once again.

Much of the political class of our country’s founding generation viewed the Constitution as restraining, not unleashing, the government. They, especially and most notably James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, recognized that there are “natural rights,” which are areas of human behavior for which we do not need a permission slip from government to exercise, are truly inalienable. An inalienable right, like speech, worship, travel, self-defense, and privacy for example, is one that cannot be taken away by majority vote or by legislation or by executive command. It can only be taken away after the behavior of the person whose restraint the government seeks has been found by a jury to have violated another’s natural rights. This process and these guarantees (articulated in the Bill of Rights) are known today as the presumption of liberty. Stated differently, because of our recognition of natural rights, and our history, values, and written constitutional guarantees, we in America are self-directed and free to make our own choices. We have free will. In fact, the constitutional guarantee of due process mandates that because our individual liberty is natural to us, it is always presumed and therefore, it is always the government’s obligation, or government’s burden, to demonstrate our unworthiness of freedom to a judge and jury before it can curtail that freedom. It is not the other way around.

Until now.

Let’s face it, government has become hostile to the People. It has become hostile to the US Constitution, to our precious Bill of Rights, to States’ rights, and to the inherent and inalienable rights of the individual. As I wrote at the beginning of this article, a government cannot control the economy and cannot direct social engineering (social change) without controlling its people.

As Ronald Reagan explained in his ‘Time for Choosing’ speech:

“It doesn’t require government expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two political parties…that we are to choose just between those two. I believe that would destroy our country. And in destroying it, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear.”

What are some examples of how our federal government has become out of control and a direct threat to our human rights and liberties?

I’ve broken the examples into two general classifications: (1) Those schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to control the American people, and (2) Those schemes, actions, and initiatives against targeted individuals and businesses (conservatives):

Government schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to control the American people:

  • The election system has been compromised and citizens have no confidence at all in the election results.
  • 87,000 new IRS agents have been hired to harass and intimidate taxpayers.
  • COVID and Monkey Pox pandemics have been concocted in order for the government to claim “national emergency” powers so it can dictate and mandate what citizens can do and when they can do it.
  • With the new government healthcare insurance system, citizens are compelled and forced to follow government guidelines.
  • The federal government has hijacked the public education system to engineer a more progressive social order (“Whoever controls the education of our children controls the future”).
  • The federal government has become hostile to religion, allowing it to usher in progressive social values. (“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State….. The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”  — Everson v. Board of Education (1947) 
  • The federal government has become extremely hostile to gun rights and has been using mass shooting incidents (especially school shootings) to introduce, or threaten, gun control legislation.
  • The federal government is forcing religious institutions to accept and adopt progressive policies, even when such policies are in direct conflict with its foundational teachings.
  • The leftist element of the federal government has been weaponizing agencies to go after, harass, and even defame and imprison political undesirables.
  • The federal government has colluded with social media, the mainstream media, and big tech giants to push “one voice.”  (This is intended to indoctrinate an electorate that for all intents and purposes is ignorant and not likely to be independent thinkers and prefers ‘talking points’)
  • There have been countless individuals and businesses that have been “cancelled” by the left because they dared to express their conservative views. (One has to live in fear if he or she dares to express views that are contrary to the government’s agenda)

And yet, the real government and political criminals have not been investigated nor have they been subject to such unwarranted and intimidating searches and seizes. We all know who they are.

Government schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to target conservative individuals and organizations:

  • The relentless and un-ending harassment of President Donald Trump by an unhinged Democratic majority in government, including the lawsuits and two baseless attempts to impeach him while in office (and then after he left office).  The charges never amounted to the constitutional criteria of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
  • The DOJ raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago. A court filing unsealed on Friday included a detailed inventory of the material that the F.B.I. removed in its Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump’s office and storage area at Mar-a-Lago, his residence and private club in Florida. Among the items seized, according to the list, were 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings. Forty-eight empty folders marked as having contained classified information were also taken, though the list did not specify whether that information was recovered. In total, the inventory included 33 groups of items that F.B.I. agents removed from Mar-a-Lago, including individual documents as well as containers full of materials like books, articles from newspapers and magazines or gifts and pieces of clothing. These seemingly more innocuous objects were often mixed together in the same boxes or containers as government documents, both with and without classification markings.
  • The raid on General Flynn and the harassment of he and his family, including his son. (Apparently, he was indicted for his role in schemes to rig bids in violation of the antitrust laws and engage in criminal fraud on insulation contracts in Connecticut and elsewhere)
  • In 2010, the US DOJ undertook surveillance of conservative FOX NEWS reporter (chief Washington correspondent) James Rosen, collecting his telephone records and seizing 2 days worth of private emails, and tracking his movements in and out the state. The government suggested that Rosen was a “co-conspirator” in a conspiracy involving the illegal leaking of confidential and classified government information by the State Department to the press. Additionally, the FBI accused Rosen of breaking anti-espionage laws. (What about the presumption of the right to a free press and the time-honored policy that a reporter never should have to divulge the identity of his or her sources?)
  • “It is downright chilling,” Fox News executive Michael Clemente said in a statement. “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen’s] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
  • Prior to targeting Rosen, the Obama administration seized 2 months worth of telephone records of reporters and editors of the Associated Press.
  • In May 2013, the DOJ conducted a pre-dawn raid on Rosen’s home, confiscating his computer, his files, his phone, and his private notes. The Dept. of Justice also harassed his parents.
  • And how can we forget:  In 2013, IRS official Lois Lerner revealed that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been getting extra scrutiny, based on words such as “tea party” or “patriots” in their names. In years that birthed the Tea Party movement (2009 – 2010), hundreds of groups affiliated with the party had sought tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4), as “social welfare” organizations. IRS demands for documents left many of them in bureaucratic limbo for a year or more. Many filed suit claiming that the IRS harassed them and discriminated against them.
  • This past summer, in June, federal agents conducted a pre-dawn search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Clark played a key role in President Donald Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. Clad in his pajamas, the agents led Clark out of his Virginia suburban home and took his electronic devices. Why did the government see fit to raid Clark’s home?  Simply because he saw fit to investigate Trump’s allegation of voter fraud.
  • This summer, on September 13, Mike Lindell was surrounded by FBI agents at a Hardee’s drive-through, who then confiscated his cell phone. (Apparently, they are targeting him for his high-profile role in educating and confronting election fraud OR they simply want to intimidate and send a message to all those who are alleging election fraud and fighting for measures to ensure election integrity)

It’s getting too much to take. We just want to live our lives, free from government control and intimidation, and able to enjoy our inalienable natural and God-given rights and liberties. But (aside from the Trump years), it is getting harder and harder with each day.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan warned “We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well, I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.” (“A Time for Choosing” Speech)

We went on to say:

“Admittedly there is a risk in any course we choose to follow, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face–that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand–the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he would rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin–just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it’s a simple answer after all.

       You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said that “the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits–not animals.” And he said, “There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.

       You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” (“A Time for Choosing” Speech)

Again, I recommend that every American read Reagan’s full speech.

To sum up, let’s not forget the warning Ronald Reagan delivered in 1964: “This is the issue of this election:  Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

References:

Ronald Reagan, “A Time For Choosing” (September 27, 1964) – https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/reagans/ronald-reagan/time-choosing-speech-october-27-1964

Declaration of Independence (text) – https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947) – https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/330/1

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

REMEMBERING 9/11 in 2022

by Diane Rufino, September 11, 2022

21 years ago, on September 10, 246 people went to sleep in preparation for their morning flights. 2,606 people went to sleep in preparation for work in the morning. 343 firefighters went to sleep in preparation for their morning shift. 60 police officers went to sleep in preparation for morning patrol. 8 paramedics went to sleep in preparation for the morning shift. None of them lived to see 10:00 am the next day – Sept 11, 2001. In one single moment, life can change; it may never be the same. As you live and enjoy the breaths you take today and tonight before you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, tell those you love how you feel about them, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.

Let’s Look Back at that Fateful Morning, 21 Years Ago when a series of horrifying events unfolded before the unbelieving eyes of the American people, involving American Airlines flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines flight 77, and United Airlines flight 93.

The attack on America known as 9/11 was comprised of four coordinated suicide terrorist attacks carried out by the militant Islamic extremist network known as al-Qaeda[ against the United States. On the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen terrorists—directed by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden—hijacked four commercial airliners mid-flight while traveling from the northeastern U.S. to California. The attackers were organized into three groups of five members and one group of four, with each group including one designated flight-trained hijacker who took control of the aircraft. Their goal was to crash the planes into prominent American buildings, inflicting mass casualties and major structural damage. The hijackers successfully crashed the first two planes into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the third plane into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth plane was intended to hit a federal government building in Washington, D.C., but instead crashed down in a field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, following a passenger revolt that foiled the attack.

This is how the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 unfolded:

It was almost 8:40 am on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  It was a beautiful, clear, sunny morning.  Both towers of the World Trade Center, in lower Manhattan, were slightly less than half full.  Flight 11, heading from Boston to LA, had already been hijacked and had broken contact with air controllers.  At about that time, Betty Ong, an attendant on Flight 11, called American Airlines Operations Center, to report that the plane had likely been hijacked.  She reported that the first class attendant, the purser, and a first class passenger had been stabbed but no one really knew what was going on.  Flight attendant Amy Sweeney also called American Airlines. She was scared.  She said the plane was flying erratically and had all of a sudden made a rapid descent. She said: “I can see the water. I can see the buildings. The plane is flying so low.”  The transcript shows that she then took a slow, deep breath and calmly said: “Oh my God!”  The phone went dead for both Amy and Betty at 8:45.  At 8:46 am, Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. The plane struck the 93rd through 99th floors of the 110-story building. No one above the crash line survived; approximately 1,360 people died.  Below the crash line, approximately 72 died and more than 4,000 survived.  87 people perished onboard Flight 11. In addition to Betty and Amy, Sara Low was also a flight attendant who lost her life.  Her father described her as being prone to silliness and having an infectious personality, one that could calm even the most nervous traveler.  He said: “My life stopped when my daughter died.”

About the time of the crash, air controllers noticed that Flight 175 fell off the radar.  And a few minutes later, they learned that Flight 77 had been hijacked.  It was then that they then suspected that Flight 175 had also been hijacked.  In fact, both pilots on board that plane had already been stabbed to death.

At 8:55 am, Karl Rove took President Bush aside and told him of the crash at the North Tower. They were headed to an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida.  At first, they believed it was likely an accident, perhaps a pilot who had suffered a heart attack.

At 9:03 am, Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.  Millions watched the crash live on television. The plane struck the 77th through 85th floors of the 110-story building.  Approximately 100 people were killed or injured in the initial impact; and 600 people in the tower would eventually die. A woman on the 83rd floor made a last call to 9/11. She said: “The floor is completely engulfed in smoke.  We’re on the floor and we can’t breathe…. I don’t see any more air. … I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

The death toll from the South Tower was far lower than in the North Tower because when the occupants learned of the attack on its neighbor, about 2/3 immediately evacuated the building. 

The combined death toll from the two towers was estimated at 2,606.  60 people perished on board Flight 175.  343 first responders – firefighters and paramedics – would also perish. And 23 officers of the NYPD as well.  Firefighter Terence Hatton — who earned 19 medals in 21 years — died before his wife even had the chance to tell him that she was pregnant.

At least 200 people fell or jumped to their deaths from the burning towers.  We remember the footage of people gathered in groups at the windows in a last minute attempt to get some oxygen.  We remember many of them jumping in order to avoid a fiery death. The reporters called them “jumpers.”  We can’t imagine being faced with such a hopeless choice.  Our hearts ached as we watched the footage.

NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, who arrived at the scene immediately, has been forever touched by what he witnessed that morning. He said: “As I looked up, my eyes caught on a man on the 100th floor of the North Tower near the top. I realized I was watching the man throwing himself out. I watched him go all the way down and hit…  I just stood there and watched, frozen, because it was so incomprehensible.  Over the course of time I saw several other people jumping, I can’t remember how many.  Two of them were holding hands. Of the many memories that stick in your mind from that day, that’s the one I remember every single day.”

At the time the second plane struck the South Tower, President Bush was in a second grade classroom promoting his education policy and listening to the children read a story about a pet goat.  At 9:06 am, Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, seized a pause in the reading exercise to whisper to him that a second plane had crashed into the Towers.  President Bush continued briefly to listen to the children read their story so as not to relay any sense of alarm to them and in front of the cameras.

At 9:16 am, the FAA learned that Flight 93 might also have been hijacked but it could not get confirmation.  At 9:20 CNN and Fox News commentator, Barbara Olson, a passenger on board Flight 77, called her husband, Ted Olson, Solicitor General at the Justice Department to tell him that the plane had been hijacked and that passengers were ordered to the back of the plane. The FAA then learned that Flight 77, originally en route from Dulles Airport to Los Angeles, had circled around and was heading towards Washington DC.

At 9:28 am, the hijackers on board Flight 93, which was flying across rural Pennsylvania, took out knives and stabbed pilots, flight attendants, and passengers. Then they relocated the remaining passengers to the back of the plane and threatened to detonate a bomb.  Air control was able to hear Arab voices on the radio.

At 9:29, President Bush delivered his first address to the nation that day –  from the elementary school, in front of about 200 children:  He said: “Today we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

At 9:34 am, the FAA noticed that Flight 77 was missing. It had dropped from radar.  At 9:36, it crashed into the first floor of the Pentagon, along the west wall.  All 64 people on the plane perished and 124 people working in the building were killed.  A further victim would die in a hospital several days later.  Donald Rumsfeld ran from his office on the other side of the Pentagon and went immediately to the crash site.  He helped carry victims on stretchers and helped medics set up IVs.

At 9:42 am, Mark Bingham, on board Flight 93, called his mother and said, “I’m on a flight from Newark to San Francisco and there are three guys who have taken over the plane and they say they have a bomb.”  He didn’t stay on the phone long, but he repeated several times: “I love you Mom.  I love you very much.”   Fellow passenger, Todd Beamer, was able to make a call for 13 minutes, to a GTE customer service supervisor, who then immediately notified the FBI.  He said that the plane was hijacked by 3 people and they killed the pilot and co-pilot.  He said the hijackers had locked themselves in the cockpit and appeared not to know how to fly the plane.  Whether they realized it or not at the time, Mark and Todd both attended the same high school – Los Gatos High. They were both athletes. Flight 93 was en route at that point for Washington DC.  F-16 fighter jets were in the air, tracking it and poised to shoot it down. 

At 9:57 am, it is believed that Flight 93 passengers, led by Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick, took a food cart and used it as a battering ram and shield to storm the cockpit.  As they rallied to take control of the plane, Todd recited the 23rd Psalm and ended with these words: “Are you ready guys.  LET’S ROLL.”

At 9:59 am, eyewitnesses at Ground Zero heard a series of loud explosions and then the unimaginable happened… the South Tower collapsed. 

At 10:06 am, Flight 93 began to break up in mid-air before it finally crashed into an empty field in a place called Shanksville, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, and about 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.   Debris was found very far away from the crash site and in fact, very little wreckage was found there.  All 40 passengers were killed.

At 10:28 am, eyewitnesses at Ground Zero heard another huge explosion and then the North Tower collapsed. They said they could hear the sound of twisting and crushing metal.  (If you close your eyes, I’m sure you can recall all these events as clearly as when they happened 10 years ago. I know I can)

Mayor Guiliani was asked how many had died and he answered: “The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear.”

2,606 people died in the towers or on the ground.  The death toll could have been much worse.  An estimated 15,000 people made it out of the World Trade Towers to safety after the first plane crash.   246 people on the four planes died. There were no survivors.  The hijackers turned our beloved Twin Towers into slaughterhouses.

Shortly after the towers fell, Kevin Shea, an off-duty firefighter, was found on West Street, with a broken neck, severed thumb, internal injuries, and very little memory of what he had done as the buildings burned. He suffered slight amnesia but was keenly aware that 12 other firefighters from his fire company who raced to the World Trade Center never made it out alive. Firefighter Anthony Sanseviro was in tears, mourning the death of his longtime friend and fellow firefigher Danny Suhr, who was struck by a falling body and killed as they were running to the burning towers.  

At 3:15 pm, President Bush had arrived back in DC.  Condoleeza Rice greeted him with these words: “We’re at war, sir.” Bush asked CIA Director George Tenet who he thought was responsible for the day’s attacks and Tenet replied: “al-Qaeda. The whole operation looked, smelled, and tasted like bin Laden.” Tenet then told him that passenger manifests showed that three known al-Qaeda operatives were on board Flight 77.

At 8:30 pm, President Bush prepared to address the nation –  to address 320 million Americans who had witnessed an unspeakable tragedy.  He gave these words: “Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America… with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could….

I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible for these evil acts and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” 

Before going to bed that night, President Bush would write this in his diary: “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today.… We think it’s Osama bin Laden.”

It may have been the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in us, as Americans.   

Those working at the scene hoping to find any survivors were horrified. There were places they walked where they saw body parts — parts of human bodies…  hands, legs.  Mayor Guiliani would later report: “We recovered about 19,000 body parts – a very small percentage of intact bodies.  About half of the families got something they were able to bury and the other half got nothing.”

Today – 21 years later – we come together not as Men or Women, Young or Old, Rich or Poor, or members of any ethnic group.  We do not stand here as laborers or professionals or housewives or public servants.  Or as Christians or non-Christians.  We are Americans.  On the morning of 9/11, our enemies didn’t target any one group over another. They targeted Americans… American civilians. Not men and women in uniforms trained for military action.

 Firefighters and other first responders risked their lives to save those dying and in danger.  They didn’t see the scared and suffering in terms of race, religion, gender, or profession.  They simply saw them as fellow Americans. 

We especially recognize the unique value of first responders (firefighters, police, clergy) in such a tragedy as 9/11, just as we recognize their unselfish commitment to helping other human beings whenever and wherever they are in need and in danger. 343 firemen and paramedics lost their lives on that fateful morning.  They crawled up fiery blackened, smoke-filled staircases to save complete strangers… And they willingly did so.  We have such fondness and respect for our firefighters.  They are a special breed.  You see, the death card is one that every firefighter carries in his hand.  He hopes he never has to play it, but it’s always there.  Every time we hear a siren or a fire truck wail, we instantly know that a life will be saved. Sadly, we never know if the fireman’s life will be sacrificed.

Likewise, people look to clergy for comfort and empathy, and in fact, it was in this very capacity that Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the NY Fire Department, lost his life at the site of the flaming Towers.  He was in the lobby of the South Tower administering last rites when it collapsed.  Debris flew everywhere, striking Father Mychal in the head. It was reported that at the time he was struck, he was praying out loud: “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”  When I was in high school,Father Mychal served at St. Joseph’s parish in my hometown of East Rutherford, in north Jersey.  I was in his youth group at the time.  

We recognize the same valor in those civilians who selflessly went back into the burning buildings to help save lives. Heroes were born that day.

Simply put, the attacks on NYC and the Pentagon were the most savage and audacious acts of terror ever perpetrated. They were also supposed to include government buildings in Washington DC. We wonder why our country was the target of such a brutal attack.  It’s because terrorism works. For us as Americans, we lost a lot of the freedom we had taken for granted on that day. We no longer feel safe within our borders, we spent years under “terrorist warnings,” we are harassed when we go on planes, we spent years not trusting anyone of middle-eastern decent. It was the most costly attack on American soil, even more costly than the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the forces of Imperial Japan killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. During the September 11 attacks, 2,977 people were killed and more than 25,000 others were injured. Of the 2,977 fatal victims, 2,753 were killed in the World Trade Center and the surrounding area, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania. And then, of course, there were the 19 hijackers who committed suicide. Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto rightfully noted that they had “woken up a sleeping giant.” And 9/11 committed the United States to fight terrorism, wherever it originates and whenever it is used.

The spirit that the terrorists tried so hard to kill on September 11 has never been stronger. The attacks only solidified our commitment that America will survive and freedom will ring.  The attacked forged a new generation of patriots.  Men and women have been inspired in force to join the armed services.  Over 3 million have volunteered. It was an unfortunate event that created national unity. We continue to need that national unity today.

Remembering 9/11 and honoring its innocent victims isn’t about government or politics or political correctness. It’s about love of country and a bond with our fellow Americans. It’s about respect and an unspoken duty to keep 9/11 from fading in significance. It’s about a solemn promise to fellow Americans to keep their spirit and sacrifice alive.  As Scottish poet Thomas Campbell wrote: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”  3000 unarmed, innocent Americans were targeted for death in NYC and Washington DC for no other reason except they were Americans.  It could have easily been my husband or my child who was on one of those planes, or your husband, wife, or child.  

It is said that the test of any religion, government, political system, or educational system is the type of man or person that it forms.  Let us think about that as we reflect on the events of 9/11. 

May all those who died on 9/11 rest in peace and may we continue to remember what happened on that horrible day…  If on no other day than this day, the anniversary of that horrible and savage attack on our country, let us continue to come together not as Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, Christians or agnostics, but simply as Americans…  as neighbors and members of our collective American society.

Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, helping a stranger, a humble donation to law enforcement or the fire station, displaying our flag, or volunteering at church, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

MY EXCHANGE WITH NC SENATOR THOM TILLIS

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on police use of force and community relations on on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 16, 2020 in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Pool via AP)

The following is an exchange I had with my US Senator, Thom Tillis regarding a piece of federal legislation – H.R. 8404 (“Respect for Marriage Act”)

Hello Senator Tillis,
I am writing to ask you to please, please, please VOTE AGAINST H.R. 8404. It is very important and not only that, it is the right and the constitutional thing to do.

The First Amendment reads: “Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise.” This is a cornerstone of the freedom and liberty we enjoy and cherish in this country. It is an absolute bar on the intervention of Congress into matters of religion. There is no such thing as “Wall of Separation of Church and State”; it is a legal fiction. It was only introduced, against the standard practice of the Supreme Court of referring to primary documents and references in reaching its opinion on a particular case, in the case of Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947). It was introduced in the majority opinion by Justice Hugo Black, a leadership member in the KKK. “Wall of Separation” was a provision included in the KKK oath. 

H.R. 8404 reads: “(a) In General.—No person acting under color of State law may deny—
“(1) full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals; or
“(2) a right or claim arising from such a marriage on the basis that such marriage would not be recognized under the law of that State on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.
“(b) Enforcement By Attorney General.—The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any person who violates subsection (a) for declaratory and injunctive relief.
“(c) Private Right Of Action.—Any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (a) may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against the person who violated such subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.

H.R. 8404 is a liberal attempt to not only codify “same-sex marriage” into federal law, but it is egregious attempt to violate the first amendment’s guarantee that US citizens and US churches have the FREEDOM to worship and believe as they choose (the “Free Exercise” Clause).

If passed, churches and other religious organizations, will be forced to accept the LGBTQ agenda and will be forced to recognize and accept gay marriage. It is a blatant attempt to destroy our traditional family structure.
I am not saying that I am against tolerance or in favor of discrimination. In fact, I am not. I believe people love who they love. It’s a matter of the heart. But just because we want to live in an ideal world and an ideal country, we cannot violate our US Constitution, our Bill of Rights, to do so. That is where the Article V amendment process comes into play. That is the constitutional provision that allows the Constitution to update to the changing societal values (that is the only way the Constitution can be “a living, breathing document.” Justices, on their own, cannot take it upon themselves to do an end-run around the Constitution and change it at will).

You have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

Please honor your oath, support and defend our US Constitution, and bring honor to the federal government. The States, which are the true depositories to define and regulate marriage, will do what they think best. We have to believe and have faith in that.

Most Sincerely,
Diane Rufino, attorney, molecular biologist, high school teacher, writer, blogger, and activist
My Blogsite: www.forloveofgodandcountry.com 

RESPONSE FROM SENATOR TILLIS:

Dear Ms. Rufino: Thank you for taking the time to contact me about same-sex marriage. I appreciate hearing from you.

The House recently passed legislation that would codify the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established the right to marriage for interracial and same-sex couples. I support codifying the right to marriage in federal law. I am working closely with my Senate colleagues to ensure that legislation to codify the right to marriage does not in any way limit or inhibit religious freedom. 

As Senator, I believe that all individuals should receive equal treatment under the law. This is as true for the LGBTQ+ community as it is for any other American. 

I also strongly oppose any effort to infringe on any American’s First Amendment rights to religious freedom. I will only support legislation that maintains the existing law in North Carolina and across the country regarding marriages between two people and does not include any restrictions on the religious liberty rights of individuals and religious institutions.

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I serve on the committee with jurisdiction over this issue. Please know that if this legislation comes before the Judiciary Committee or the full Senate, I will keep your views in mind.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about other important issues.   

Sincerely,  
Thom Tillis
US Senator

MY REPONSE TO SENATOR TILLIS RESPONSE:

Hello Senator Tillis, 

I tried to send you this message online, but I kept getting the message, “Your message cannot be delivered.”  And so I figured I would send you a physical letter, with the same message.

This response is in response to the response that you sent me (refer to that response, attached below). Before reading what I would like to share, please refer to your response below.

I understand that is YOUR belief and personally, I believe as you do. But I am concerned about what the federal law at issue will do to the tenets of certain churches. As you know, respecting the equal treatment of individuals and their choice of life partners doesn’t exactly line up with the fundamental tenets of certain religions. Can you assure me that federal law will not infringe upon those tenets and the church’s first amendment guarantee to follow those tenets?

I ask this because in this country, we enjoy a free-market approach to almost everything. If a person does not like or would rather not be associated with a church because of its stance on alternative marriage, they can leave that church and find another. Or, a new church can be founded on principles and lessons that best suit their social values. In the end, I believe it will all work out and there will be a fitting religion for everyone in this country, and that is the way it should be. 

I would like to ask you two questions and then I will leave you alone:

  •  Do you believe Jesus Christ was a racist homophobe? Do you believe Christianity is built on racist homophobic tenets?  I shutter to think what the liberal/progressive element of our country would do to Him if he would come to us again, in this current time.
  •  What do you think is meant by “Congress shall make no law……..”?

Thank you for agreeing to keep my concerns in mind when the bill comes up for a vote.

Sincerely,

Diane Rufino, attorney, molecular biologist, high school teacher, writer, blogger, and activist
My Blogsite: www.forloveofgodandcountry.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AN URGENT REQUEST TO PATRIOTS –

The following is a letter I just wrote and sent to my US Senators (North Carolina), emphasizing that they need to vote AGAINST H.R. 8404 – the “Respect for Marriage Act,” sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

I sent the identical message to Senator Thom Tillis.

Hello Senator Burr,

I am writing to ask you to please, please, please VOTE AGAINST H.R. 8404. It is very important and not only that, it is the right and the constitutional thing to do.

The First Amendment reads: “Congress make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting its free exercise.” This is a cornerstone of the freedom and liberty we enjoy and cherish in this country. It is an absolute bar on the intervention of Congress into matters of religion. There is no such thing as “Wall of Separation of Church and State”; it is a legal fiction. It was only introduced, against the standard practice of the Supreme Court of referring to primary documents and references in reaching its opinion on a particular case, in the case of Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947). It was introduced in the majority opinion by Justice Hugo Black, a leadership member in the KKK. “Wall of Separation” was a provision included in the KKK oath. 

H.R. 8404 reads: “(a) In General.—No person acting under color of State law may deny—
“(1) full faith and credit to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State pertaining to a marriage between 2 individuals, on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals; or
“(2) a right or claim arising from such a marriage on the basis that such marriage would not be recognized under the law of that State on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals.
“(b) Enforcement By Attorney General.—The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against any person who violates subsection (a) for declaratory and injunctive relief.
“(c) Private Right Of Action.—Any person who is harmed by a violation of subsection (a) may bring a civil action in the appropriate United States district court against the person who violated such subsection for declaratory and injunctive relief.

H.R. 8404 is a liberal attempt to not only codify “same-sex marriage” into federal law, but it is egregious attempt to violate the first amendment’s guarantee that US citizens and US churches have the FREEDOM to worship and believe as they choose (the “Free Exercise” Clause).

If passed, churches and other religious organizations, will be forced to accept the LGBTQ agenda and will be forced to recognize and accept gay marriage. It is a blatant attempt to destroy our traditional family structure.
I am not saying that I am against tolerance or in favor of discrimination. In fact, I am not. I believe people love who they love. It’s a matter of the heart. But just because we want to live in an ideal world and an ideal country, we cannot violate our US Constitution, our Bill of Rights, to do so. That is where the Article V amendment process comes into play. That is the constitutional provision that allows the Constitution to update to the changing societal values (that is the only way the Constitution can be “a living, breathing document.” Justices, on their own, cannot take it upon themselves to do an end-run around the Constitution and change it at will).

You have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

Please honor your oath, support and defend our US Constitution, and bring honor to the federal government. The States, which are the true depositories to define and regulate marriage, will do what they think best. We have to believe and have faith in that.

Most Sincerely,
Diane Rufino, attorney, molecular biologist, high school teacher, writer, blogger, and activist
My Blogsite: www.forloveofgodandcountry.com 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why It’s Crucial to Repeal the 17th Amendment

by Diane Rufino, August 4, 2022

When I talk to folks about the Constitution, I usually comment that “the Constitution holds all the answers to the problems that are plaguing us as a country,” and as a republic. This article will explain why the original Constitution, which was written in Philadelphia in 1787 and ratified by the States in 1788, and which essentially remained in effect without change until the turn of the 21st century, with its provision on how US senators were to be selected, is one of those solutions.

The original Constitution provides a unique process for selecting US senators; that process was provided in Article I, Section 3, which read: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” In short, our Founding Fathers incorporated the plan proposed by Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut who advocated for the small states, articulated a national legislature with two parts. He envisioned a bicameral legislative branch, which gave equal representation to each state in the Senate, and representation based on population in the House of Representatives. The US House is the “people’s body” and the US Senate would be the “States’ body.” The House would represent the constituency and legislate on their behalf while the senators would specifically show allegiance first and foremost to their States.

In fact, no issue was more important to our Founders than the balance of power between the States and the new federal government. They knew first-hand what it was like for a government thousands of miles away to issue a decree that forced private citizens to comply and forfeit treasure in the form of unjust taxes. From his “throne” in the White House, a US president can declare anything he deems important as a “national emergency” thereby allowing federal agencies to prohibit what individuals can and cannot do, require or compel them to do what they ordinarily would never agree to do, and suspend their civil and individual liberties. From that same throne, he can issue an executive order and regulate the behavior of fishermen on both coasts of the United States, and in doing so, can steal their livelihoods by denying them the right to fish. From his “throne” in the president’s cabinet, the Secretary of the Department of Interior can declare any animal, bug, bacteria, virus, or species of plant to be an endangered species, thereby assuming authority to regulate the behavior of private citizens on whose land one of those endangered species may happen to inhabit or possibly inhabit, as well as to regulate the land itself.

In other words, our Founding Fathers put a critical element of federalism directly in our bicameral Congress. If the House attempted to pass a law that was deemed unconstitutional, for example (and quite likely) or if the President abused his Treaty-making or judicial appointment powers, the States, through their senators, could immediately block such laws and presidential abuse. To use the language of Thomas Jefferson, the Senate, acting on behalf of the States, could immediately “nullify” (to render “null and void”) such unconstitutional laws and prevent them from being enforced on sovereign States and on a free people. This government feature was potentially the last and one of the strongest of checks and balances in our constitutional system of checks and balances. I will address this issue in more detail below. Ultimately, I hope to emphasize that we NEED TO REPEAL THE 17th AMENDMENT. Our government, now more than ever, needs to revert to the original method of selecting US senators.

Did our Founding Fathers intend for the US Senate to act as an integral element of federalism in our government structure?  I believe so.

Having just fought a revolutionary war against Great Britain and defeated the powerful nation to be recognized as independent sovereign states (and eventually as an independent sovereign nation), our Founding Fathers were distrustful of tyrannies, fearful of governments becoming arbitrary and capricious, obsessed with designing and creating a limited “common government” to regulate common functions of all States and just as importantly, to secure and safeguard the rights and liberties of the American people.

The Constitution Center explains on its website that after returning from France in 1789, Thomas Jefferson supposedly asked George Washington, during breakfast one morning, why Washington had agreed to the creation of the US Senate in the Constitution. Noting the saucer on which Jefferson’s hot morning beverage rested, Washington explained, “we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.” Is this story really true? Apparently ,no one can confirm it. Nonetheless, it nicely captures what the Framers hoped to achieve in establishing the US Senate. First, and most importantly, as reflected in Article I, Section 3, the Framers designed the Senate, like they had other fixtures within the Constitution, such as the Electoral College and the judiciary, to be independent of the voting majority. The Senate was originally designed, created, and empowered to function in ways that frustrated direct democracy and designed to keep the House of Representatives in check. Second, it was designed to temper government passions and slow down the legislative process, giving government more time and wisdom (hopefully) to act in the most judicious, responsible, and rational manner – for the good of the country.

In fact, the Constitution originally treated Senators quite differently. In the original design, Senators were chosen by their respective State legislatures, and as a result, they were subject to instruction and recall if they did not do what their legislatures instructed them to do. (Note that while the Constitution provided the minimum age for membership in the House of Representatives to be 25 and for every seat in the House to be up for re-election every two years, it provided that senatorial candidates have a minimum age of 30 in order to serve in the Senate and for each Senator’s term to last for six years. The relatively higher minimal age requirements for Senators and longer lengths of Senate terms were designed to increase the likelihood that Senators would be better educated and more disposed than their House counterparts to take the long view on important issues. The distinction of powers for the House and the Senate – namely, the Senate’s responsibility to ratify treaties and judicial appointments by the president and its sole power to remove a president after being “impeached” (convicted) by the House – would seem to explain why there are different criteria expected of each chamber representative. Such specific responsibilities, as James Madison explained it in Federalist No. 58, serve as “a shield to some particular interests, and another obstacle generally to hasty and partial measures.”

All that changed in 1912 when Congress passed the proposed Seventeenth Amendment on May 13 and then when the States ratified it on April 8, 1913. The Seventeenth Amendment reads: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.”  [The amendment also altered the “filling of vacancies” clause]. In short, the Seventeenth Amendment calls for a dramatic change in how US senators are selected. From 1913 to today, senators are chosen and elected by the people. They have become political creatures rather than representatives of the States and their sovereign interests and concerns.

Indeed, the Seventeenth Amendment totally transformed the Senate and its essential and critical purpose. And this has been very unfortunate. By making Senators subject to popular election in their respective States, it effectively democratized the Senate and, in doing so, abandoned one of the critical differences between the House and the Senate, namely, the primary allegiance of senators to their individual States. The change introduced by the Seventeenth Amendment has made it easier for Senators to pay less attention to local or state leaders’ concerns, to ignore fundamental state issues and concerns, and to ignore the critical importance of federalism and instead more prone to follow the popular will. It essentially created a second body of democratically-elected representatives, each one beholden to the people. It has dealt a dangerous blow to State sovereignty. To be honest, I don’t know what possessed the States to ratify the amendment in 1913.

The growing power in the federal government for the past one hundred years has been possible because of the loss of this critical element of federalism. Because both the House members and senators are elected directly by the people, there is no check or balance on the power of the federal government. Were the Senate body still the instrument of the collective power of the state governments, there could be some pushback when the federal agencies intrude into jurisdictions that should rightfully belong to the States.

I do know, however, that many constitutional scholars believe that it was after the ratification of this transformative Amendment that the Senate joined the House in expanding the size and scope of the federal government to unprecedented degrees, all at the expense of State sovereignty. With this Amendment firmly in place, these scholars argue further that there is no turning back from this foundational transformation.

Before going any further, I’d like to spend just a few paragraphs on the US Constitution.

What is a Constitution –

What is a constitution anyway?  A constitution is the act of a People governing themselves. It is a social compact among members of a society agreeing and acknowledging a particular form of government. The agreement creates and establishes a government and delegates powers to it. The powers delegated are transferred from the original source of sovereign power – the individual  …. We the People.

The Individual, inherently vested by God and by Nature to govern himself, can technically use whatever type of force he deems necessary to protect himself, his family, or his property, including murder. When individuals form together in a society, an agreement (ie, compact/contract) is necessary to establish a uniform set of laws to govern conduct and behavior for the benefit of everyone and to establish a government to execute and enforce those laws. That is the purpose of a constitution. For example, we wouldn’t want Mr. Smith to shoot Mr. Jones for simply picking an apple off his apple tree.

Our US Constitution is exceptional, not only in its words and provisions, but perhaps in the fact that it embodies a unique idea. Nothing like it had ever written and established before. The power of the idea was in the recognition that individual rights are granted directly by the Creator and not by the state (government). And following that premise, it is the people, and only them, that are able to delegate authority to their government. The concept is so simple and yet so very fundamental, far-reaching, and yes, revolutionary.

America’s founders embraced a previously unheard-of political philosophy which held that people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. This was the statement of guiding principle for the new nation, and, as such, had to be translated into a concrete charter for government. The Constitution of The United States of America became that charter. Other forms of government, as we all know, past and present, rely on the state as the grantor of human rights. If government can “allow” its people to exercise certain rights and privileges, they can also take them away. But our American Founding Fathers understood that such a system could never recognize and secure individual liberty, which was to be the founding ideal of America, and so they adopted John Locke’s belief that sovereignty vests first and foremost with the individual. Our Founders also believed that a government made up of imperfect people exercising power over other people should possess limited powers. Through the Constitution they created for us and our country, they wished to secure the blessings of liberty for Americans and for their posterity by limiting the powers of government. Through it, they delegated to government only those rights they wanted it to have, holding to themselves all powers not delegated by the Constitution. (See the limitations in the words and provisions of the Constitution, and especially the Ninth and Tenth Amendments). They even included a means for controlling those powers they had granted to government, and that is our governmental system of Checks and Balances. Many problems we face today result from a departure from this basic con­cept.

Thomas Jefferson and many other members of our founding generation were deeply influenced by the 18th-century European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment, and most noticeably by English philosopher John Locke. Enlightenment philosophy stressed that liberty and equality were natural human rights. The novelty of the Declaration of Independence – that is, its most famous paragraph, the second one (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”) comes almost directly from the writings of John Locke. Locke discussed these themes in his Second Treatise of Government in 1689 at the time of England’s Glorious Revolution, which overthrew the rule of the arbitrary and tyrannical King James II.

The American colonies, then States, and finally the United States, were founded on a revolutionary and magnificent idea. Indeed, the world has changed and become a more civil place since the publication of the Declaration of Independence, the birth of the United States, and the creation of the US Constitution.

The US Constitution is brilliant in that the government so created not only governs the explicit affairs of the States (interstate commerce, money, border security, money, mail, etc) and governs We the People, but it also itself. It is the oldest, and most well-thought out, written constitution in the world.

Checks & Balances

The US Constitution created our federal government. The federal (a name used to incorporate the “federalist” nature of our government system) or “common” government was designed with 3 independent branches, each with its particular responsibilities. To keep each branch confined to its particular responsibilities, our Founding Fathers devised an ingenious system of checks and balances. Actually, the concept was addressed earlier by the French philosopher, Baron de Montesquieu. In his famous work “The Spirit of the Laws,” Montesquieu argued that the best way to prevent the concentration of power arbitrarily in a single branch was through a separation of powers, in which different bodies of government exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power, with all these bodies subject to the rule of law. In addition, each branch enjoys a power that “checks” a power of another branch.

The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution. With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government are given specific abilities to limit the powers of the others. And this way, theoretically, no one branch could become too powerful. The caveat, however, is that should branches collude and work together, then checks and balances will not work to prevent a concentration of government power.

The most obvious of this system of checks and balances is that the president can veto any bill passed by Congress, but a two-thirds vote in Congress can override the veto. Other examples include:

  • The House of Representatives has sole power of impeachment, but the Senate has all power to try any impeachment.
  • Any bills that intend to raise revenue must originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate also has to approve the bill.
  • Congress has the power to set and collect any taxes or duties.
  • The House of Representatives and the Senate both have to pass the same bill before it can become a law.
  • The president is commander-in-chief of the U.S. Army and Navy.
  • The president has the power to grant pardons and reprieves for crimes against the U.S. except in an impeachment.
  • The president can make treaties, but only with a two-thirds agreement from the Senate.
  • The president can appoint Supreme Court judges, but the Senate must approve these choices.
  • Supreme Court judges have the power to declare presidential and Congressional actions as unconstitutional.
  • The vice president is also automatically the president of the Senate.
  • Congress can propose amendments to the Constitution, which, of course, must be ratified by three-fourths of the individual States.
  • Congress can pass laws, or propose amendments to the Constitution (as mentioned above) that essentially can override a Supreme Court decision. (see the Reconstruction era amendments).
  • The States, upon application by two-thirds majority, can apply to the Congress to call a Convention whereby they have the ultimate sovereign power (supreme even to the federal government) to amend, change or even discard the Constitution.

In 1787, the States set out “to amend the Articles of Confederation” in order to overcome its defects. But the agenda soon changed when the delegates met in Philadelphia that summer. Their goal was to create a new constitution that would give a central or common government power to act nationally but not take away the rights of any State or its people. They specifically wanted to avoid a government that copied the king of England and his parliament.

As mentioned earlier, having US senators selected by state legislatures and therefore acting for the benefit of state interests, state sovereignty, states’ rights, was a powerful check and balance, integrated physically and meaningfully in the very design of the legislative branch. Sadly, that immediate check is no longer able to act for our benefit, which is to check the power of Congress and the president so that our essential rights and liberties remain safe and secure

Federalism –

Federalism is our strongest and most effective form of “Check and Balance.” Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government.  It is often referred to as our system of “dual sovereignty.” Our Founding Fathers designed a government which is predicated on the division of political power between the national or federal government and the individual States. Technically, it was the sovereign States that surrendered a limited number of their sovereign powers to the federal government to exercise for their mutual benefit, while retaining most of them. The Constitution clearly reflects this by its express enumeration of powers delegated to the new government it created as well as by the addition of the Tenth Amendment (a remnant of the Articles of Confederation), which restates the principal of federalism. “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.” James Madison went on to explain this division in his essay The Federalist No. 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. As the former periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over the governments of the particular States.”

Our system of dual sovereignty implies that each sovereign possesses a specific sphere of governing power. And that separation of power implies that each sovereign will jealously guard their powers. Because of this tension, they will take note of when the other side infringes on and usurps their sovereign powers. The system created is necessarily adversarial, just like the legal system whereby the two opposing attorneys vigorously defend their clients and go against each other in a court of law.

Why is this unique government design feature so critical to our idea of government?

Federalism is one of the most important and innovative concepts in the design of our American government system and in the drafting of the Constitution, although the word never appears there. In America, the states existed first and they struggled to create a national government that would not compromise their sovereignty.  The US Constitution is “hardwired” with the tensions of that struggle, and in fact, the States demanded that the Tenth Amendment be added to remind the federal government and to remind the People that its powers are limited to the plain words and provisions in the Constitution and the remainder are reserved to the States. (The language of the Tenth Amendment is extremely similar to Article II of the Articles of Confederation). The Tenth Amendment reads: “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.”  It emphasizes that the inclusion of a Bill of Rights does not change the fundamental character of the national government. It remains a government of limited and enumerated powers, so that the first question involving an exercise of federal power is not whether it violates someone’s rights, but whether it exceeds the national government’s enumerated powers.

Note that the Ninth and Tenth Amendments also evoke themes of popular sovereignty, which was articulated in the Declaration of Independence, and which highlights the foundational role of the people in the constitutional republic. “A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Perhaps most importantly, however, federalism is the last and most important of our checks and balances. When all other means of checks and balances fail to curb the ambition of the federal government, the States can always use their authority as an equal sovereign (some might say a superior sovereign) to resist the government in DC and refuse to acknowledge and enforce an unconstitutional law, federal policy, executive order, or emergency order, as well as a federal court opinion which is deemed an exercise in judicial activism and/or an erroneous interpretation of the Constitution. [See Nullification]. And that makes it the most critical in helping to keep the federal government in check and preventing it from usurping powers not specifically delegated to it and becoming too large and tyrannical.

To repeat, having US senators selected by state legislatures and therefore acting for the benefit of state interests, state sovereignty, states’ rights, was a powerful check and balance, integrated physically and meaningfully in the very design of the legislative branch. Again, that immediate check is no longer able to act for our benefit, which is, of course, to check the power of Congress and the president so that our essential rights and liberties remain safe and secure.

Nullification –

Nullification is the legal theory that holds that the States can refuse to comply with federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional. Thomas Jefferson articulated the doctrine/theory in his Kentucky Resolutions of 1799, in which he also added the term to our lexicon:

RESOLVED, That this commonwealth considers the federal union, upon the terms and for the purposes specified in the late compact, as conducive to the liberty and happiness of the several states: That it does now unequivocally declare its attachment to the Union, and to that compact, agreeable to its obvious and real intention, and will be among the last to seek its dissolution: That if those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence: That the principle and construction contended for by sundry of the state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despotism; since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the constitution, would be the measure of their powers: That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour of that instrument, IS THE RIGHTFUL REMEDY: That this commonwealth does upon the most deliberate reconsideration declare, that the said alien and sedition laws, are in their opinion, palpable violations of the said constitution; and however cheerfully it may be disposed to surrender its opinion to a majority of its sister states in matters of ordinary or doubtful policy; yet, in momentous regulations like the present, which so vitally wound the best rights of the citizen, it would consider a silent acquiescence as highly criminal: That although this commonwealth as a party to the federal compact; will bow to the laws of the Union, yet it does at the same time declare, that it will not now, nor ever hereafter, cease to oppose in a constitutional manner, every attempt from what quarter soever offered, to violate that compact:

Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1799 followed up on his earlier draft – The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 in which he essentially stated the same thing, just not using the exact term “nullification.”  James Madison drafted a similar set of resolutions in 1798 – The Virginia Resolutions of 1798. In that document, he introduced another word to our lexicon – “Interposition,” which is the act of intervening or interposing between government and the People. (Interposition is a claimed right of a U.S. state to oppose actions of the federal government that the state deems unconstitutional). Here is the language Madison used:

That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and ARE DUTY BOUND, to INTERPOSE for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.

The resolutions, which were written specifically to motivate the individual States to declare John Adams’ “Sedition Act” (of 1796) unconstitutional, assert and re-state two key founding propositions: First, the Union is a compact among individual states that delegates specific powers to the federal government and reserves the rest for the states to exercise themselves. Second, it is both a right and a duty of individual states to interpose themselves between their citizens and the federal government. On these bases, Virginia’s resolution, penned by Madison, declared that the Sedition Act was unconstitutional and that measures should be taken by all states to retain their reserved powers under the Tenth Amendment. Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution took Madison’s theory of interposition a step further and concluded that because the Sedition Act was unconstitutional, it was null and void and therefore unenforceable. That is, because it exceeded the powers delegated to the US Congress and the US President, they were null and void from the inception and from the moment of its passing. [Note, the Resolutions actually accused the Alien and the Sedition Acts (of 1796) of being unconstitutional, but the Sedition Act was the most offensive].

Checks and balances and especially state nullification & interposition are peaceful remedies to keep the government from becoming tyrannical. Without these “peaceful” remedies, we face violent remedies such as revolution, secession, and war. In making their case for nullification and interposition at the time of the Alien & Sedition Acts in 1798, Jefferson and Madison made this important point.

Nullification, as explained above, is an American founding legal theory, just as secession is. They transcend the Constitution in that no government can regulate or abolish such doctrines and theories. And since the Constitution delegates powers to the federal government, and nullification and secession are intentionally withheld, they are not mentioned in that founding document. Just as we as individuals have “inalienable rights” that no government can violate or take away from us, the States (as individual and independent sovereigns) have the inalienable powers of nullification and secession. If anyone wishes to find even a hint of these powers in our Founding documents and in our Constitution, I would argue that they are implied in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, our federal government structure (“federalism”), and in the Tenth Amendment. Throughout US constitutional history, legitimate scholars have held that the States have the right to declare null and void any federal law that they deem to be unconstitutional under the US Constitution. Of course, nullification is considered an “extreme application” of States’ rights. Of course it would be labeled as such because IT IS !!  As I mentioned earlier, nullification is the last, most important, and most effective of checks and balances on the federal government. Because of its power to limit the ambition of the federal government, the federal government refuses to recognize it (characterizing it as “not legitimate”) and the federal courts have never upheld it.

About 20 years ago, while I was helping to run the NC Tenth Amendment Center, I predicted that the day would come when Americans would finally become acquainted with the doctrine of Nullification, and I believe we are seeing that happen. Today, States continue to enact laws and policies essentially nullifying and resisting federal laws in areas such as health care regulation, gun control, and abortion within their borders.

Once again, having US senators selected by state legislatures and therefore acting for the benefit of state interests, state sovereignty, states’ rights, was a powerful check and balance, integrated physically and meaningfully in the very design of the legislative branch. That immediate check is no longer able to act for our benefit, which is, of course, to check the power of Congress and the president so that our essential rights and liberties remain safe and secure.

Author Thomas DeLorenzo explains the situation very well in his article “Is the Lunatic Left is Getting Desperate”:

The founding fathers intended that state legislatures would appoint senators and then instruct them on how to vote in Congress. This was to safeguard against the corruption of senators by special interests. The ability of state legislatures to instruct senators was mentioned frequently during the Constitutional Convention and the state ratifying conventions and was always assumed to exist.

At the New York ratifying convention John Jay, one of the three authors of The Federalist Papers, said that the Senate is to be composed of men appointed by the state legislatures…. “I presume they will also instruct them, that there will be a constant correspondence between the senators and the state executives.” At the Massachusetts ratifying convention, Fisher Ames referred to U.S. senators as ambassadors of the states. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45 that because of this system the U.S. Senate would be disinclined to invade the rights of the individual States, or the prerogatives of their governments. This was an important element of the whole system of states’ rights or federalism that was created by our founders. Madison wrote in Federalist No. 62 that the system gave to state governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former. It helped establish the fact that the citizens of the states were sovereign and the masters, not the servants, of their own government.

The legislative appointment of U.S. senators was responsible for the most famous declarations of the States’ Rights philosophy of our most influential Founders, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson articulated the doctrine of Nullification in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and then the Kentucky Resolutions of 1799, and Madison articulated the doctrine of Interposition in his Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and then his Report of 1800.  These Resolutions were used as part of the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures’ instructions to their senators to vote to repeal the offensive and unconstitutional Sedition Act, which effectively prohibited free political speech.

John Quincy Adams resigned from the Senate in 1809 because he disagreed with the Massachusetts state legislature’s instructions to him to oppose President James Madison’s trade embargo. Senator David Stone of North Carolina resigned in 1814 after his state legislature disapproved of his collaboration with the New England Federalists on several legislative issues. Senator Peleg Sprague of Maine resigned in 1835 after opposing his state legislatures’ instructions to oppose the rechartering of the Second Bank of the United States. When the U.S. Senate censured President Andrew Jackson for having vetoed the rechartering of the Bank, seven U.S. Senators resigned rather than carry out their state legislatures’ instructions to vote to have Jackson’s censure expunged. One of them was Senator John Tyler of Virginia, who would become President of the United States in 1841.

In other words, the original system of state legislative appointment of U.S. Senators did exactly what it was designed to do – limit the tyrannical proclivities of the central government. The Senate played an active role in preserving the sovereignty and independent sphere of action of state governments in the pre-Seventeenth Amendment era prior to 1913. Rather than delegating lawmaking authority to Washington, state legislators insisted on keeping authority close to home, as our Founding Fathers intended. As a result, the long-term size of the federal government remained fairly stable and relatively small during the pre-Seventeenth-Amendment era.

Compare that to the size and scope of the federal government today.

Some Examples –

Let’s look at some specific cases where the US Senate as intended by our Founding Fathers would have rescued Americans from federal over-reach.

In February 1938, the US Congress passed a major piece of New Deal legislation – The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. The program was enacted as an alternative and replacement for the farm subsidy policies, with its goal being the restoration of agricultural prosperity during the Great Depression by curtailing farm production, reducing export surpluses, and raising prices. The bill established limits on wheat production, based on the acreage owned by a farmer, in order to stabilize wheat prices and supplies. Farmers who grew in excess of the limits set by the bill were fined. The Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed to replace a previous farm subsidy bill – the New Deal’s Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 – which had been found to be unconstitutional (as exceeding Congress’ taxing power). The act revived the provisions in the previous Agriculture Adjustment Act, with the exception that the financing of the law’s programs would be provided by subsidies from general tax revenues instead of a new tax.

How might things have worked out if the US Senate has been comprised of representatives appointed by their state legislatures to represent state interests?  Being that the United States was in the Great Depression (the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world, lasting from 1929 to 1939), was being led by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal program, and realizing that a war was beginning in Europe and threatening to reshape the political and geographical landscape, the US House would undoubtedly have passed the bill. The bill would then have gone over to the Senate. The States, informing their representatives that the bill potentially would give the federal government too much power, would have emphasized that the bill was unconstitutional. The Senate would have (hopefully) voted against the bill, thereby preventing it from becoming law and preventing the federal government from abusing the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

If the Senate can ever derail a piece of unconstitutional federal legislation or strike it down, and thereby preventing it from going to the federal courts, that should be its goal. Allowing a federal bill to go to the federal courts, including and especially the Supreme Court, gives the court (liberal court) the chance to find in favor of the government and to implicitly expand its powers. It should be noted that it has been the federal judiciary over the many years that has recognized and affirmed ever larger and expansive powers to the federal government.

The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 was especially noteworthy in that it was at the center of a so-called “landmark” Supreme Court case – Wickard v. Filmore (1942). Some may remember that the Obama administration cited Wickard when it defended its signature bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC). What Obama was insinuating was that the federal government has almost absolute power when it comes to regulating commerce.

In 1940, Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn became the plaintiff in the lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of the federal farming bill. For many years, he had owned and operated a small farm in Montgomery County, Ohio, maintaining a herd of dairy cattle, selling milk, raising poultry, and selling poultry and eggs. It had been his practice to raise a small acreage of winter wheat, sown in the fall and harvested in the following July, to sell a portion of the crop, to feed part to the chickens and livestock on the farm, to use some in making flour for he and his family, and to keep the rest for the following season’s seeding.

Farmer Filburn admitted producing wheat in excess of the amount permitted by law but maintained that the excess wheat was produced for his private consumption on his own farm (as explained above) – specifically to feed the animals on his farm. Since it never entered commerce at all, much less interstate commerce, he argued that it was not a proper subject of federal regulation under the Commerce Clause.

The case made it all the way up to the US Supreme Court. By the time the case reached the high court, eight out of the nine justices had been appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt, the architect of the New Deal legislation. In addition, the case was heard during wartime, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor galvanized the United States to enter the Second World War. Filburn argued that since the excess wheat that he produced was intended solely for home consumption, his wheat production could not be regulated through the Interstate Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court rejected the argument and reasoned that if Filburn had not produced his own wheat, he would have bought wheat on the open market.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court ruled against Filburn and for the government. In fact, the Court not only recognized the Commerce Clause as being the source of the government’s power, but greatly enlarged that power.

The opinion of the Court read: “Whether the subject of the regulation in question was ‘production,’ ‘consumption,’ or ‘marketing’ is, therefore, not material for purposes of deciding the question of federal power before us. That an activity is of local character may help in a doubtful case to determine whether Congress intended to reach it…. But even if appellee’s activity be local and though it may not be regarded as commerce, it may still, whatever its nature, be reached by Congress if it exerts a substantial economic effect on interstate commerce and this irrespective of whether such effect is what might at some earlier time have been defined as ‘direct’ or ‘indirect.’

In other words, the Supreme Court greatly expanded the meaning of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause – from its original meaning, which was “interstate commerce” to “anything that directly or indirectly has an effect on interstate commerce.”  Anything and almost everything can be found to have an indirect effect on interstate commerce. This means that the Supreme Court has recognized a plenary (absolute) power to regulate commerce.

Note that one of the most important of our founding values has been the right of private property and the ability to use one’s property to its fullest potential. One such “potential” is to use the land to grow food for personal consumption. To want to grow wheat to feed one’s farm animals certainly would be covered by such an assumption.

Wickard marked the beginning of the Supreme Court’s total deference to the claims of the U.S. Congress to Commerce Clause powers until the 1990s.

The post-New Deal Supreme Court, through the opinion in Wickard and in subsequent opinions related to New Deal programs gave Congress almost limitless power to regulate private economic activity as it saw fit. That greatly-expanded interpretation of the Commerce Clause remained in effect until the Supreme Court decided the case of United States v. Lopez (1995), which was the first decision in six decades to invalidate a federal statute on the grounds that it exceeded the power of the Congress under the Commerce Clause. The opinion described Wickard as “perhaps the most far-reaching example of Commerce Clause authority over intrastate commerce” and judged that it “greatly expanded the authority of Congress beyond what is defined in the Constitution under that Clause.”

It is important to note that the federal courts have been the legal gate that has consistently allowed the federal government to grow and concentrate its powers, even by usurping them from the rightful sovereigns, which are the States and the People. (Roe v. Wade was one such case and Obergefell was another). Do you see a pattern here? This is exactly what our Founding Fathers feared – a federal monopoly over the meaning and intent of the US Constitution.

Remember back during Barack Obama’s administration when he fought and schemed to get a government health insurance bill (“Obamacare”) passed. If it weren’t for an egregious intervention by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, a blatant act of judicial activism, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC, or “Obamacare”) would have been found to be unconstitutional. There was no Article I power to sustain it. Yet Roberts gave it federal “life” and a constitutional basis when he used legal magic to link it to Congress’ power to tax. Twenty-six States filed suit to have it declared unconstitutional. [See the National Federation of Independent Business, et al v. Sebelius, 2012].

Here is how that situation would have worked out if the Senate represented the interests of the States: The US House would have passed the bill and then it would have gone over to the Senate. The States, informing their representatives, would have emphasized that the bill was unconstitutional and infringed on an area traditionally and historically reserved to the individual states. The Senate would have voted against the bill, thereby preventing it from becoming law. Alternatively, the bill could have gone back to the House where defects could have been addressed to bring it in line with the Constitution and then it could have gone through the passage procedure with better luck.

The 1985-86 US Congress passed a bill titled the “Firearms Owners’ Protection Act” (codified as 18 U.S.C. 924) which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to redefine “gun dealer” and to exclude those making occasional sales or repairs. It also exempts certain activities involving ammunition from current prohibitions, permits the interstate sale of rifles and shotguns, provided that: (i) the transferee and transferor meet in person to accomplish the transfer; and (ii) such sale complies with the laws of both States. Furthermore, it presumes the licensee to have actual knowledge of the laws of both States. It revises the current prohibition against the sale of firearms or ammunition to certain categories of individuals and makes it unlawful, with certain exceptions, for any individual to transfer or possess a machine gun. [for a more detailed list of amendments, go to this government link:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/99th-congress/senate-bill/49 ]

The statute 18 U.S.C. 924 contains a “Penalties” provision – 18 U.S.C. 924 (c)(1)(A):

(c)(1) (A) Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by this subsection or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime,

(i)  be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 5 years…… 

There was a potential constitutional problem with this provision. Nowhere in the statute is “crime of violence” defined as having “violence” as one of its elements. This problem wasn’t addressed until 2019.

In 2019, in the case United States v. Davis, the Supreme Court held that this provision, which provides enhanced penalties for using a firearm during a “crime of violence,” is unconstitutionally vague. As such, it violates the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The judicial doctrine of prohibiting the enforcement of vague laws rests on the twin constitutional pillars of due process and separation of powers. Only the people’s elected representatives in the legislature are authorized to “make an act a crime.” Vague statutes threaten to hand responsibility for defining crimes to relatively unaccountable police, prosecutors, and judges, eroding the people’s ability to oversee the creation of the laws they are expected to abide and the right to know clearly and exactly what type of behavior a law prohibits. Unconstitutionally vague statutes are easy for law enforcement officers to abuse and they open the door to judicial activism.

How could a Senate comprised of representatives appointed by state legislatures been able to prevent the problem with this law? States are exceedingly scrutinous in laws affecting the right to keep and bear arms. Assuming that States select their brightest to represent them in the Senate, the body of Senators would likely have picked up on the “vagueness” problem. The Senate would have refused to affirm the bill, would have sent it back to the House for amending, and then taken it up again only after its constitutional defects were remedied.

In 2020, several cases were brought citing employment discrimination on the basis of sexual preference and on transgender status. They alleged that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or transgender status. The cases were consolidated in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, and the question before the Court was whether Title VII’s prohibition against employment discrimination “because of . . . sex” includes discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Supreme Court found that each of the plaintiffs was protected under Title VII. In a 6-3 decision written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Court found that each of the employees’ sex played a role in their adverse employment actions and, applying a literal interpretation of the statute, concluded such discrimination is forbidden. The Court acknowledged the employers’ argument that Congress, when it enacted Title VII, contemplated that “the term ‘sex’ in 1964 referred to ‘status as either male or female as determined by reproductive biology.’”

Congress, in 1964, could have included a provision to ban discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and on “gender identity” but it did not. In dissenting opinions, Justices Samuel Alito (joined by Justice Clarence Thomas) and Justice Brett Kavanaugh stated that the majority departed from Congress’s intent when Title VII was enacted. The majority, however, asserted that the statute’s text should serve as the measure of Congress’s intent and that “when the meaning of the statute’s terms is plain, our job is at an end.”

The Supreme Court committed judicial activism in the Bostock case, by substituting its interpretation for the interpretation of the legislature (Congress). What the Court should have done was to remand the bill back to Congress for amending, if deemed important enough. Laws are the supreme province of the legislature.

How could a Senate comprised on representatives appointed by their state legislatures been able to intervene on such a situation? Such a state-led body of Congress could have issued a public statement asserting a policy whereby the Senate judicial confirmation process will be infinitely more scrutinous, making sure to vet each appointee thorough, pinning them down on where he or she stands on judicial activism, interpretation ideology, views on issues and prior Court opinions, etc. With the Senate being the States’ “check and balance” to a president’s judicial appointments, its members can make that confirmation grueling.  

In July 2022, the US House passed a federal gun control law – H.B. 7910 (“Protecting Our Kids Act”) which would make various changes to the federal firearms laws, including establishing new criminal offenses and expanding the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. Among the other changes the bill proposes to make are the following:

  • prohibits (generally) the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals who are under 21 years of age;
  • establishes new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
  • establishes a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers);
  • establishes a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels;
  • subjects bump stocks to regulation under federal firearms laws;
  • generally prohibits the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices; and
  • requires the Department of Justice to report on the demographic data of persons who are determined to be ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check performed by the national instant criminal background check system.

Think of how a Senate comprised of representatives appointed by the state legislatures would react to such a federal gun control law. States – most states, that is – are very protective of the right to keep and bear firearms without burdensome federal regulations.

Think of how a State-led Senate would handle the border issue and the illegal immigration issue and the drug trafficking and sex trafficking issues. These are particularly important and critical issues to the States and consequently, they would make sure their representatives in the Senate did the right thing to force the federal government to take its responsibility at the border very seriously.

The Senate, as the Founders agreed, should be the legislative body for the individual States. They understood that the House of Representatives would be the body that represents the people and therefore, each State would have representation that correlates with its population. The small states, at the Philadelphia Convention, were concerned that this way of selecting legislative representatives would discriminate and be disadvantageous to them and consequently, their influence, their concerns, their issues, etc would be minimized and essentially ignored in the US Congress. The Senate, therefore, was proposed as a co-equal legislative body with equal representation of all States – each State getting 2 senators. It made sense. As a co-equal legislative body, and as a direct representation of the States, the States could feel comforted that they were represented equally by their new “common” government.

Once again, the transformation of the US Senate in 1913 by the addition of the Seventeenth Amendment to our Constitution weakened one of the strongest connections between Senators and their States as sovereign entities and destroyed one of the strongest and most important of constitutional/governmental checks and balances. It has made it easier for Senators to pay less attention to local or state leaders’ concerns about federalism and more prone to follow the popular will, even if it has meant sacrificing State sovereignty, and we have certainly seen this over the past 100 years or so. Our Founding Fathers and the drafters of our precious founding documents did their jobs with the utmost skill and intelligence, basing all decisions upon a diligent study of history, with the urging of Providence, and with their ultimate goal in mind – the preservation and security of individual rights and liberty.

I’ll make the point yet again – The Constitution holds all the answers for the problems that are plaguing our country. And most of the problems stem from a government that has consistently ignored its Constitutional limits, has been overly ambitious, and has played more to politics than to the American people. Furthermore, ambitious politicians and ambitious political parties have weaponized the federal government for their own purposes. One particular remedy, the US Senate, as described and recognized in the original Constitution (Article I, Section 3) is very important as it puts the power of the States directly in the business of government. Unfortunately, the Seventeenth Amendment was passed to take that remedy away.

I therefore urge citizen activists to contact their state representatives and their DC representatives to demand that the Seventeenth Amendment be repealed. This way, having US senators selected by state legislatures and therefore acting for the benefit of state interests, state sovereignty, states’ rights, can once again be an immediate and powerful check and balance on the federal government, integrated physically and meaningfully in the very design of the legislative branch. Of course, keeping the federal government limited and confined to the restrictions in the Constitution, is the best way to maintain and secure our precious and essential rights and liberties.  

Of course, the most important reason to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment is to restore the rightful balance of power between the federal government and the State governments, and in doing so, restoring the rightful balance of political power between the federal government and the People.

I hope I have made that point clear.

REPEAL THE SEVENTEENTH AMENDMENT !!!

References

Federalist No. 45 (written by James Madison) – https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed45.asp

Interpretation of Article I, Section 3, The Constitution Center – https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/interpretation/article-i/clauses/765

Kentucky Resolutions of 1799 (written by Thomas Jefferson), The Avalon Project –  https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/kenres.asp  

Virginia Resolutions of 1798 (written by James Madison) – https://billofrightsinstitute.org/primary-sources/virginia-and-kentucky-resolutions

Thomas DeLorenzo, “The Lunatic Left is Getting Desperate,” Lew Rockwell, March 22, 2010.  Referenced at:  https://www.lewrockwell.com/2010/03/thomas-dilorenzo/smearing-ron-paul-and-states-rights/

Henry Lamb, REPEAL 17 NOW! Why the 17th Amendment Should Be Repealed and How to Do It, National Center for Constitutional Studies, January 2011.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Problems With America’s Public Schools

by Diane Rufino, July 27, 2022

The first occurs during ages 2-7, with a second one occurring during adolescence. At the start of these periods, the number of connections (synapses) between brain cells (neurons) doubles. What this means is that 2-year-olds have twice as many synapses as adults. Because these connections between brain cells are where learning occurs, twice as many synapses enable the brain to learn faster than at any other time of life. Therefore, children’s experiences in this phase have lasting effects on their development. The opportunity to learn is great, children have an enhanced ability to soak in a wide range of skill sets, but the brain still needs a lot of re-modeling before it can function as an adult brain.

And then there is the second phase, in adolescence. The brain re-modeling happens intensively during adolescence, continuing until a child is in his or her mid-20s. Brain change depends on age, experience, and hormonal changes in puberty. During adolescence, the brain undergoes a process known as “pruning.” The frontal part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is pruned or re-modeled last. The prefrontal cortex is the decision-making part of the brain which is responsible for a child’s ability to plan and think about the consequences of actions, solve problems and control impulses. Changes in this part of the brain continue into early adulthood.

Essentially, teenagers are working with brains that are still under construction.

The combination of a child’s unique brain and environment influences the way he or she acts, thinks and feels. For example, the child’s preferred activities and skills might become ‘hard-wired’ in the brain.

Why is this important and critical?  It’s important because the school-age years have the great potential of making the most permanent influence on a child. Preferred activities and viewpoints have the potential to become “hard-wired’ in their brains. School activities and sports pose a healthy influence on children; teaching (ie, indoctrinating) such progressive and controversial doctrines and policies pose an unhealthy influence on them.

These are the years when parents, family, and the church are the rightful parties to influence them on moral and social issues. Certainly, the progressive school system is not. Teachers do not know better than parents. The indoctrination, the personal values, views, and politics of teachers and school officials must never supersede or undermine the values and views of a child’s parents, family, and church. Teachers and progressive school policies pose a potential danger to the development of a child’s brain development.

This article explores just a few of the failures affecting the American public education system today. We’ll also explore five of the biggest emerging trends in American education.

Policymakers are constantly fighting to make changes to the American public education system, and not all of them are beneficial. Over the years, there has been a great deal of back-and-forth that has left the public education system in shambles. Some of these problems are easy to identify and have been long-standing issues while others are new, brought about by advances in technology, changes in policy, and general change that happens with time.

Every story has two sides, and for every policy or program put into place, there are going to be proponents and critics. Below you’ll find an overview of some of the biggest issues facing the American public system as well as arguments from people on both sides of the issue.

1.  Parents are not Involved Enough — Teachers in public schools can only do so much to support their students. When the students go home for the day, the state of their home life can impact their development both personally and academically. In cases where parents lack higher education, they may not be able to provide the assistance students need to learn and to complete homework. Students in low-income families face additional challenges at home, though even middle- and upper-class families aren’t off the hook. In many families, parents are too career-focused and have little time to spend supporting their child’s education.

2.  Problems with the Common Core Curriculum — The Common Core State Standards were developed to specify exactly what students should know before graduating high school. It was developed in 2009 to promote educational equity across the country, holding all students to the same standardized testing requirements. Some see the problem as a federal intrusion into the state control of education and others say that it doesn’t allow for teacher innovation and flexibility with the learning process. Most states adopted the standards when they were introduced but more than a dozen have since repealed or revised them.

3.  Emphasis on Standardized Testing — Along with Common Core, there has been an increased focus on standardized testing, especially during the No Child Left Behind years. Schools and teachers are judged based on student test scores which, many argue, is not a fair or accurate measure of efficacy. Many critics argue that standardized testing is one of the biggest problems in American education, suggesting that the pressure to produce high test scores leads to a teach-to-the-test approach and reduced focus on non-tested subjects like art.

4.  Decline in School Safety — There has been a string of high-profile mass shootings in American schools, resulting not only in dozens of deaths but many debates about school safety. In one poll, over 50% of teenagers said they were worried about the possibility of gun violence in school. Teachers all across the country are faced with the problem of figuring out how to prevent attacks and protect the lives of students and personnel. Some suggest special straining for teachers and concealed weapons might make schools safer while critics argue that more guns in schools could lead to more accidents and injuries. Others suggest moving funding around to hire school safety officers, hiring veterans, or even asking for volunteer veterans to help keep school children, teachers, and personnel safe.

5.  School Choice, Including Charter Schools, Voucher Programs, and Home Schooling — A particularly hot topic in education today is school choice. Charter schools and school vouchers allow parents to choose options other than traditional public schools for their children, while home schooling appears to be the most popular alternative choice. Home schooling allows the parents to completely control their child’s education and curriculum, and college admissions offices admit that their best applicants have been home schooled. Charter schools are funded by a combination of private and public funds and operate outside the public school system. School vouchers allow parents to use public funds to send their child to a school of choice, including private schools. Supporters of school choice assert that “money should follow the student” while critics complain that charter schools and voucher programs siphon funds away from public schools that are already struggling financially.

6.  The Dilution of a Sound, Basic Education with Non-Essential and Non-Value-Added Progressive Policies and Curriculum Additions – Education is being replaced with INDOCTRINATION. While state boards of education and local boards of education are responsible for providing a robust, sound, and basic education (which is the rightful expectation of parents) and in most cases are constitutionally tasked “to guard and maintain the right to a sound, basic education for every child” in the state’s public schools,” they make decisions for our students (and in disregard of parents) that go completely against those expectations and instead push all kinds of non-value-added, harmful, and perverse progressive and leftist policies down the pipeline to all local public schools. [Note, the North Carolina Supreme Court determined in the 1997 case of Leandro v. State that children in NC are entitled to a “sound basic education”[.

What are these progressive policies? They actually have various names and take various forms:

  • Critical Race Theory (CRT)
  • Social Emotional Learning policies (SEL)
  • Panoramic Surveys (and other Identity surveys)
  • Equity & Inclusion Programs  (Advancing Social Justice, Racial Equality, and the stressing of ‘Equity’ over ‘Equality’)
  • LGBTQ policies and programs
  • Transgenderism and Gender Fluidity lessons
  • Progressive and Inclusive Sex Education in Health classes
  • Pornography in public school reading material

Critical Race Theory policy is perhaps the hottest issue that has parents all across the country up in arms over what is going on with the public school system and what is wrong with the public school system. CRT is all about indoctrinating students with anti-American history and divisive concepts regarding race. It asserts that the United States is historically, systemically, and structurally racist because that is how white persons can continue to benefit. Rather than bringing students together with love and respect for one another, and with an appreciation of our “differences” and our “diversity” (which, incidentally, supporters of CRT claim is our greatest strength), CRT divides students along racial lines, having them look first at skin color rather than looking at the “content of one’s character.”

Derrick Wilburn, an African-American father and pastor, told a school board back in August 2021: “CRT in the classroom is taking our country in the wrong direction. Racism in America would, for all intents and purposes, be dead today if it weren’t for certain individuals, a certain political party, and certain institutions keeping it on life support. Putting CRT in the classroom does nothing to combat racism. What it really does is to fan the flames of what little embers remain of this toxic and divisive form of discrimination. Members of the board of education, let racism die the death it deserves.”

Another hot issue is gender identity and the counseling and questioning by school officials of students regarding such. Parents have become horrified to discover that their school policy allows for, and implements, plans to help “transition” gender-confused children, without parents’ knowledge or consent. In some instances, school officials were instructed to use the students’ correct name and pronouns when speaking with parents, but transgender names and pronouns when parents weren’t present. Why are schools all of a sudden sexualizing of children, including small children. Remember what I wrote at the very start of this article – about the underdevelopment of a child’s brain and their inability to rationalize and analyze. When did it become the responsibility of the public school, a government institution, to discuss and question a child’s gender identity? The way I see it, such a conversation would only confuse a child and eventually cause psychological issues.

How do any of these policies and programs and curriculum additions further a robust “sound, basic public school education”?

7.  The Transformation of an Institution for Education Into One That Performs Therapy —  Parents are outraged that teachers and school officials are instituting counseling, including for gender identity issues and gender dysphoria, social emotional learning policies (SEL), and panoramic surveys to mine personal information on children.

SEL, according to progressive school board members and school administrators, helps school officials find out about students’ emotions and social awareness in order to help them manage in the public education setting. How do school officials gather this information?  They pass out a survey, a series of very personal questions asking about the child’s outlook, emotional status, gender status, home life, religious status, relationship with mother, relationship with father, inquiring if there is both a mother and father, asking how much time he or she spends alone at home without a parent in the house, asking if daddy hits mommy, asking if the child has been abused by a parent, asking if there is a gun in the house, asking if the child has had sexual relations and if so, with how many partners, asking if the student needs to speak to a counselor, etc.  The questions, aside from being very (and unnecessarily) probative, intrude most directly on a child’s right to privacy and the right of his or her parents to safeguard the information that the public school (and by extension, the government) collects. (Violation of privacy and a violation of parental rights). But the questions don’t stop with an inquiry as to the child’s emotional and psychological well-being. They ask unacceptable questions about sexuality and gender (unacceptable for the age and development of school-age children) as well as questions that can be used to report the child and the family to the departments of social services and to the local law enforcement agencies.

Panoramic Surveysare a series of carefully-designed questions, intended to pull students’ information together in one report apparently to give the school system insight into their individual identity, their emotional status and vulnerability, and psychological status and vulnerability for the purpose of helping to “improving student outcomes.”  The explanation sold to parents and to the community is that Panorama surveys provide a valid and reliable way “to measure and improve social-emotional learning (SEL) in the public school system.” SEL and Panorama have an incestuous relationship; SEL requires invasive Panorama Surveys to be administered to 1.5 million public school children via a software program attached to their student identifier number. Children are their sexuality, race, nationality, and about their lifestyles and safety at home. As if these series of questions aren’t enough, school-age children are also asked to complete a psychiatric evaluation.

A number of school systems all across the country are utilizing Panorama to collect student data – including information not related to “engagement and connection to the school community.” Why are they doing this?

8.  Equity in Education. Many believe that equality, rather than equity, should be the proper policy in the public school system, if it is to properly prepare students for the real world. Equity in education implies and indirectly teaches students that there is a dual social system – one for some people and another for minorities (mostly for minorities, I should say). “Equity in education” is the process of reforming practices, policies, and procedures at the school and district levels to support academic fairness and inclusion and ensure that every child has the resources, teachers, interventions, and supports they need to be successful. Equity, which is determined on a student-by-student basis, is giving specific resources and support to disadvantaged students to bring them up to the same opportunity level as their peers. In more simple terms, those who need more get more.

9.  Teaching Methods Are Changing, Thanks to Diversity & Inclusion Policies – The teaching methods of yesterday which have been based on the competition method (which reward students who work the hardest, study diligently, and invest in their education and get the best grades) are being replaced by “group think” and “group work/group projects” methods. The “competition” method has been criticized as being racist, with white students apparently benefitting most, while minority students aren’t successful using that method. They apparently learn best in groups, sharing in grades and often leaning on the smarter students to complete assignments and projects (after all, the smarter students would never allow themselves to get a substandard grade).

10.  The Substitution of Teachers and the School System for the Child’s Parents – Parents all across the country are getting off the couch, out of the kitchen, and out of their homes to confront their boards of education complaining that their “parental rights” are being disrespected and ignored. Many schools feel it is their job and their responsibility, and not the parents’, to make decisions for the benefit and in the best interests of the child. They are demanding that their state governments and local boards of education adopt a formal “Parents’ Bill of Rights.”  A sample Parent’s Bill of Rights might look something like:

  1. Education funds must follow students, not systems.
  2. Parents have the right to engage in the selection and approval of academic standards.
  3. Parents have the right to access educational materials, resources, and syllabi taught to their children in the classroom.
  4. Parents have the right to make medical care decisions on behalf of their children.
  5. Parents will receive timely notification of information related to the health, well-being, and education of their children.
  6. In-person education is a right that should always be available as a choice.
  7. Parents have the right to transparent access to school and school district academic performance.
  8. Parents have the right to access detailed and up-to-date district financial records.
  9. Parents have the right to opt their children out of the classroom for delivery of content listed in the syllabus with which they disagree.
  10. Parents have the right to know about situations affecting their minor child’s safety in school (individually or school-wide).. Parents shall be notified in a timely manner of all reported incidents pertaining to student safety, including all crimes or misdemeanors committed by teachers or other school employees.
  11. Parents should never have to “co-parent” with government. “Basic and sound education” is the sole province of government; parenting is the sole province of parents.
  12. The right to know what their minor child is being taught in school, including, but not limited to, curricula, books, and other instructional materials.
  13. Parents have the right to determine and choose which education environment will best serve their child’s education needs, without judgement from others or resistance by the school system, even if that environment is at home (home-schooling).
  14. Parents have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding their child’s education, well-being, and access to public school progressive indoctrination. Religion, morality, family and social values are matters to be directed and respected as belonging to parents.
  15. Parents shall not be required to sign non-disclosure agreements or similar forms for parental review of curricula and shall be allowed to make copies of curriculum documents.
  16. Parents have the right to visit their child during school hours and to be able to sit-in on their child’s class, upon making a request to do so.
  17. Parents have the right to be provided with information, data, and statistics as to the shortcomings or failures (as well as successes) of each school system their child can potentially attend.
  18. Parents have the right to information on who is teaching their minor child, including guest lecturers and outside presenters.
  19. Parents have the right to information on individuals and organizations receiving school contracts and funding.
  20. Parents have the right to all school records, medical or otherwise, concerning their (minor) child.
  21. Parents have the right The right to information about the collection and transmission of their minor child’s data. Schools and school districts shall obtain parental consent prior to collecting any biometric data or other sensitive personal information on the minor child.
  22. Parents have the right to be notified should the school feel the need to have a counselor speak to their child, and to have the right to refuse to have their child “counseled” by the school.
  23. Parents have the absolute right to be notified of and to be involved in the filling out of ANY questionnaire or survey that the school assigns to their child. Likewise, parents have the absolute right to refuse to have their child answer such questionnaires or surveys. Parents have the right to control what information is shared with the school system (ie, government).
  24. For parents of exceptional children: Parents have the right to have their child’s exceptionalism diagnosed and served by the education system.
  25. Parents shall be able to remove their child temporarily from a class or activity that conflicts with their religious beliefs.
  26. Parents have the right to be heard regarding complaints about their child’s education, their child’s teacher/teachers, and how their child is being instructed. School boards must establish a way to consider and respond to complaints from parents.
  27. Parents have the right to make suggestions to their child’s school regarding education and to be taken seriously. Parents have a stake in their child’s education and a duty to over-see how it is being delivered.
  28. Gender identity is a matter that lies with a child’s parents and not with the school system or the government.
  29. Parents shall be empowered to sue schools for injunctive relief that do not protect these rights. A pattern of such violations in a particular jurisdiction will trigger major reductions in education funding.

11.  Funding Issues with the Public School System — Funding is always an issue for schools and is, in fact, one of the biggest issues facing the American public education system today. The public school system never has enough money. Teachers are always crying for more funding for their classrooms and for their students. Approximately 85-90% of K-12 schools funding comes from state and local governments, largely generated by sales and income taxes. Research shows, however, that funding has not increased with need and many states are still issuing funding that is lower than it was before the Great Recession. Lower funding means fewer teachers, fewer programs, and diminished resources. The problems with the need for more funding are two-fold: It incentivizes states to seek federal funding (which, according to the express language of the US Constitution, is unconstitutional) and also means that teachers continue to make low wages. The benefit is that it allows and incentivizes teachers to be creative in their lesson delivery (which, after all, is where the real skill of a teacher lies).

12.  The Unions Have Too Much Power Over the State and Local Boards of Education – Concerned parents and concerned citizens are finally understanding the power that teacher unions have with respect to state and local boards of education. The unions have an iron grip on the delivery of publicly-funded education in government schools, Parents and concerned citizens need to work to break the monopoly that they have and insist that the only groups that technically and reasonably should have an iron grip are themselves.

In short, and in summary, state boards of education and local boards of education have become too political and too overly activist. We must never forget that “Whoever controls the education of our children controls the future.”  Look closely at who controls the education of our children. What kind of future are they looking to create?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America, The Land That I Love

by Diane Rufino, July 11, 2022

I’m a long-time activist. I started a Tea Party group in 2009 in my area of North Carolina and have been running it ever since. I believe in the Tea Party movement because it embraces our core American values and principles and fights for them. I recently (November 2021) started another citizen-activist group, a conservative education advocacy group for outraged and frustrated parents and concerned citizens. The group not only has already made a difference with the local board of education but has inspired neighboring counties to form similar groups of their own.

I fight tirelessly for them. I fight because this is the land that I love. I wish more people would. As Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

A growing number of Americans distrust the federal government. According to a Pew Research Center poll published on June 6, 2022 and a Monmouth University poll released on May 12, 2022, a growing number of Americans distrust the federal government and believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. “Only two-in-ten (20%) Americans say they trust the government in Washington DC to do what is right ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time.’” Even more telling, 79% of Americans surveyed said that they believe the country has “gotten off on the wrong track.” The fact is that most Americans recognize that an all-out war is being waged against our republic and against every American’s individual liberty. That war is being waged in the name of socialism, social justice, and an uber-progressive agenda.

I fight for our founding values and principles because this is my country. I fight because this country, for better or worse, is the land that I love.

Why do I love her?

I love her because she was founded and designed to be exceptional. The Declaration of Independence, a brilliant and revolutionary document written largely and substantially by my favorite Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, articulates the reasons why the founding American colonies decided to separate from Great Britain but most importantly, the values and principles that would come to define them.

Paragraphs one and two articulate those values and principles. They read:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

These principles were considered “revolutionary” back in the 17thand 18th centuries. Back in those days, countries were ruled by kings and blue-bloods. They believed that there was a divine right for certain individuals to rule. America would be different. They would be the source of government power, through elected officials, and government would be tasked to protect and secure their individual rights and liberty.

The Declaration didn’t just proclaim to a candid world our reasons to separate from Great Britain but rather, it continues to influence our country to this very day. What many people don’t know is that the Declaration influenced the very drafting of the Constitution in 1787 when the States decided to scrap the Articles of Confederation in favor of a totally new constitution and new form of government. It also inspired the abolitionist movement and the ultimate prohibition of slavery in this country, it inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to lead his people to fight against racial discrimination and fight for a federal civil rights law, and most recently, it offers encouragement and direction to the modern conservative originalist movement [including the Tea Party movement starting back in 2009 and continuing, Turning Point USA, Judicial Watch, the Heritage Foundation, Freedom Watch – with its motto “Government fails, freedom works”, Citizens United, The American Conservative Union (ACU), American Family Association (AFA), Americans for Prosperity (AFP), The Conservative Caucus, Family Research Council (FRC), and Eagle Forum].

As mentioned above, the Declaration informed our US Constitution and continues to do so.

Most Americans don’t actually know the nature of the Constitution. Many regard it as nothing more than a founding document and those on the left regard it as something even more inconsequential – as an outdated founding document. The truth is that it is so much more. In fact it is critical to our constitutional republic. It created the federal government, assigned it a series of enumerated powers, sets limits and boundaries on the branches of government, provides for a series of checks and balances to keep the government in check (with the antagonism of the States being the most powerful of those checks and balances), and provides a legal mechanism for changing or amending it (Article V). It establishes the “Supreme Law of the Land” (Article VI) which therefore forms the basis for our Rule of Law.

Our US Constitution, like all constitutions, is a social compact, drafted and ratified by the people of the several states, to protect We the People from an ambitious and oppressive government. The Constitution is intended for We the People; it is for the protection of our Liberty. People need to view it that way in order to understand why it is so important and critical and why activists like myself fight so hard to defend it, to chastise elected officials for violating it, and to explain it to others. Education is the best way to keep we Americans informed and help them be responsible voters.

The fact is that we almost didn’t get that Constitution in 1787. The discussions and debates among the delegates devolved into headstrong arguments and stubbornness. When it seemed that there would be no overcoming this and that the Convention had come to an impasse, the eldest delegate to the Convention, Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin called upon all the delegates to take a moment and appeal to God to imbue them with rationality, purpose, and vision and to remind them of why they had met in Philadelphia in the first place. This is what he said on June 28, 1787, just one month into the convention:

We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by-word down to future ages…I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”   

Granted, the Constitution was not perfect when the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention (Constitutional Convention) completed their draft and signed it (on September 20, 1787). In fact, several key delegates found the final draft to be unsuitable and a danger both to state sovereignty and to individual liberty and refused to sign it. They demanded that a Bill of Rights be included and certain key states, including Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, agreed (and made note of that condition in their ratification conventions).

Alexander Hamilton, in his Federalist Papers essay No. 1, understood how difficult it would likely be for the Constitution to be ratified by all the independent States. He explained:

“After an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind. This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government.

A torrent of angry and malignant passions will be let loose. To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives. An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency of government will be stigmatized as the offspring of a temper fond of despotic power and hostile to the principles of liberty. An over-scrupulous jealousy of danger to the rights of the people, which is more commonly the fault of the head than of the heart, will be represented as mere pretense and artifice, the stale bait for popularity at the expense of the public good. It will be forgotten, on the one hand, that jealousy is the usual concomitant of love, and that the noble enthusiasm of liberty is apt to be infected with a spirit of narrow and illiberal distrust. On the other hand, it will be equally forgotten that the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.

After having given it an attentive consideration, I am clearly of opinion it is your interest to adopt it. I am convinced that this is the safest course for your liberty, your dignity, and your happiness. I affect not reserves which I do not feel. I will not amuse you with an appearance of deliberation when I have decided. I frankly acknowledge to you my convictions, and I will freely lay before you the reasons on which they are founded. The consciousness of good intentions disdains ambiguity. I shall not, however, multiply professions on this head. My motives must remain in the depository of my own breast. My arguments will be open to all and may be judged of by all. They shall at least be offered in a spirit which will not disgrace the cause of truth.

I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the following interesting particulars: The utility of the Union to your political prosperity, the insufficiency of the present Confederation to preserve that Union, the necessity of a government at least equally energetic with the one proposed by this new Constitution, the conformity of the proposed Constitution to the true principles of republican government, its analogy to your own state constitutions, and lastly, the additional security which its adoption will afford to the preservation of that species of government, to Liberty, and to property.

It may perhaps be thought superfluous to offer arguments to prove the utility of the UNION, a point, no doubt, deeply engraved on the hearts of the great body of the people in every State, and one, which it may be imagined, has no adversaries. But the fact is, that we already hear it whispered in the private circles of those who oppose the new Constitution, that the thirteen States are of too great extent for any general system, and that we must of necessity resort to separate confederacies of distinct portions of the whole.1 This doctrine will, in all probability, be gradually propagated, till it has votaries enough to countenance an open avowal of it. For nothing can be more evident, to those who are able to take an enlarged view of the subject, than the alternative of an adoption of the new Constitution or a dismemberment of the Union. It will therefore be of use to begin by examining the advantages of that Union, the certain evils, and the probable dangers, to which every State will be exposed from its dissolution. This shall accordingly constitute the subject of my next address.”

The strongest argument against the ratification and adoption of the new constitution by certain key delegates to the Convention and then by certain key States during the ratification period was its lack of a Bill of Rights. They argued that the new constitution was defective in its failure to protect individual freedom and liberty because it lacked such a bill. They pointed to England, which adopted a Bill of Rights in 1689 (and which the colonists regularly pointed to in defense of their rights – their “rights as English subjects”).

A Bill of Rights was finally added when the first US Congress convened, thanks to James Madison, who kept his promise to Virginia and introduced a series of amendments (proposed in large part by the individual states themselves) on June 8, 1789 and to Thomas Jefferson for emphasizing to his good friend that “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” The Bill of Rights was hugely popular and overwhelmingly supported, and it officially became part of the US Constitution in December 1789.

The Declaration was “submitted to a candid world” in July 1776 as the American Revolution was just getting started. The American colonies/states fought successfully and against all odds when British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington (who had help from French General Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, and French Army troops) at Yorktown (VA) on October 19, 1781. The treaty of Paris, signed by American delegates Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and a representative of the King of Great Britain, King George III, on September 3, 1783, acknowledged the independence and sovereignty of all the American states.

Article I reads: “His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island & Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia, to be free sovereign & Independent States; that he Treats with them as such, and for himself his Heirs & Successors relinquishes all Claims to the Government Propriety and Territorial Rights of the same & every Part thereof.”

With respect to the Declaration of Independence, America was, and continues to be, founded on its “revolutionary” principles. She appeals to a higher standard than other countries. In America, we believe that all governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. All nations, all people, look to our country as a beacon of light and right. It’s this principle, along with our commitment to individual Liberty that makes America a truly unique and legitimate nation.

I love America for her commitment to the Declaration and because it defines us as Americans. I know it defines me. I sing its praises whenever I speak to my Tea Party group and I sing its praises, and reference it, whenever possible when I write.

The Declaration is masterful and revolutionary because it explains the concept of Individual Sovereignty, which is the concept upon which our nation and our government system was based, and explains the proper purposes of government.  Individual Sovereignty is the government philosophy that asserts that true sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments. Since government belongs inherently to the people, it must act in their best interests. And since government belongs to the people, whenever they believe it to be destructive of its purposes (as the Declaration explains), they have the right to “throw off” that government and resume all sovereign power over themselves until a new government is established. If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses (which they do by calling for an Article V Convention or pressuring their States to interpose and nullify abusive and unconstitutional federal laws and actions or in the last resort, to revolt or to secede), outside interference is justified. By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens. Perhaps that is why it is important to maintain friendly relations with like-minded nations.

Related to the concept of “individual sovereignty” is the understanding that a person has the right of conscience – the right to think and believe as he or she chooses. A person has a functioning mind and the actual or potential ability to make choices based on reason and awareness, in accordance with his or her belief set, which may or may not be justified by religious teachings. Young children have such minds and are therefore also sovereign, but the ability to use reason is something that develops as the child’s brain matures, and therefore the parents have a responsibility to exercise some of the sovereignty rights on behalf of their children. This “parental obligation” creates a moral obligation on the part of parents to provide wisdom and judgement, as well as education oversight and material needs for their children. Upon the age of maturity, the child becomes a fully sovereign human being and is emancipated from his or her parents. Individual sovereignty also explains why we as Americans have the rights to life, to speak freely, to exercise our religious beliefs, to assemble, to protest, to keep and bear firearms for self-protection, and to be safe and secure in our homes and to have our privacy respected. These are inalienable rights, which means they attach to us by way of our very humanity.

Also related to the concept of individual sovereignty is the notion that Americans have the right to the fruits of their own labor and should be minimally taxed. The fundamental right to acquire, possess, and sell property is the reason Jefferson included the term “and the pursuit of happiness” as one of the inalienable rights included in the Declaration of Independence. The fundamental right to acquire, possess, and sell property is the backbone of opportunity; it incentivizes us and gives us a valid reason to get a good education, to decide on a good and prosperous career, to save our money, to invest, to seize opportunities, and to invest in starting a business. It’s the most practical means to protect one’s assets and the most practical means to pursue happiness. This right, along with the free enterprise system (articulated by Adam Smith in “Wealth of Nations”) that stems from it, is the source of individual prosperity, national prosperity, and the foundation of economic liberty.

In short, our country was founded on the revolutionary notion of Individual Liberty. I love that about America. I am free. Every day I can exercise my freedoms without government oppression or suppression (as long as I am not around members or organizations on the extreme left, although I’m confident I can hold my own).

“Liberty” is defined as the state of being free to exercise one’s inalienable and civil rights and to be free from unreasonable government control. Liberty means a person can freely exist within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority (government) on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.

I doubt that those rounded up after the January 6 so-called “insurrection” believe this is a free country. I doubt Donald Trump believes this is a free country after what the Democrats in Congress did to him while he was duly elected to serve as president. I doubt that all those (politically targeted) who have been needlessly and unfairly harassed, defamed, and financially drained by the government believe this is a free country. I realize that many Americans doubt that we are still a “free people.” They doubt that this country can still be characterized as “the land of the free” (even though we are defended by “the brave”).

But we continue to look to the Declaration of Independence as the defining articulation of what it means to be an American and to live in America.

Besides being our initial founding document, the Declaration of Independence guided, and continues to guide, our understanding of the US Constitution. It provides the foundation, the foundational principles, and the intention of our Founding generation in drafting the Constitution and creating the government it did. It continues to be our nation’s moral compass. That is, except when certain factions try to divide our nation’s people and communities according to race.

America is the product of religion and world history, namely western civilization (the Bible, Rome’s Cicero, Tacitus, Livy, Plutarch, etc), the influence of English and French Enlightenment philosophers (such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Baron de Montesquieu, Frederic Bastiat, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant), and the history, in particular, of Great Britain, our mother/parent country. The ol’ saying that “we stand on the shoulders of others” is certainly true when it comes to this wonderful country.

Despite what those on the left may say, this country has been shaped by Judeo-Christian beliefs and culture. John Winthrop, who sailed across the Atlantic on board the ship Arbella in 1630, delivered the following sermon just before he and his fellow Puritans arrived in New England (where they settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony):

“We are entered into covenant with Him [God] for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant……….

To provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory… For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.”

As mentioned earlier, it was a call to God and a call for daily prayer at the convention center in Philadelphia in June 1787 by Ben Franklin that enabled the delegates to get beyond their petty differences and push forward and eventually come to a consensus regarding a new Constitution and a new form of government.

Furthermore, in his Farewell Address, President George Washington said: Liberty is “the palladium of your political safety and prosperity….  The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

      The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the

whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government. 

      A government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.

      The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

        Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…..”

John Adams famously explained in his letter to the Massachusetts militia, on October 11, 1798: “Because We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and religion, avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In fact, it is religion and morality (virtue) that is necessary to support and sustain our constitutional republic. If we expect to have a “limited government” as the originally-intentioned Constitution created, We the People must be expected to be able to govern ourselves appropriately, and those guidelines come from God’s law and from the teachings of Jesus. It is from the Judeo-Christian tenets and teachings that we can clearly and assuredly know the difference between right and wrong and therefore guide our conduct.  If a free people are to govern themselves politically, they must first be able to govern themselves morally and effectively.

Our nation’s appreciation and adherence to such tenets and teachings continued up until 1962. In that year, the US Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Engel v. Vitale, which declared that school-sponsored prayer is unconstitutional, as being a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The following year, the Supreme Court handed down an equally disastrous ruling. In Abington Township (PA) v. Schempp (1963), the Court declared that Bible readings and the recitation of the Lord’s prayer also violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

It was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an avowed hedonist and atheist activist, who filed numerous lawsuits challenging various laws and government practices based on the issue of ‘separation of Church and State,’ with one such case eventually making its way to the Supreme Court (consolidating into the Abington v. Schempp case). To understand just how much this woman was despised and how dangerous Americans believed her to be to our critical national institutions, LIFE magazine, in 1964, did a cover story on her and referred to her as “the most hated woman in America. [As a side note, in 1995, O’Hair, her son, and her granddaughter, went missing in their home state of Texas. Rumor has it that she was still so utterly despised that law enforcement didn’t even bother to look for her for over a year].

1962-1963 – that’s when public schools began to fall apart, that’s when society began to degenerate, that’s when social morality began to become a thing of the past, that’s when violence began to increase, and that’s when the incidence of school shootings began to rise (sharply with each succeeding decade).

I remember attending high school from 1974-78 and we still were able to start our days in home room by enjoying a moment of silence in order to pray (or to just contemplate). When I was doing my student teaching in 2012 in the public school system, students began their day watching President Obama on the televisions that were installed in each classroom.  Quite a difference, yes?

If there is any confusion or denial of the fact that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values, one just needs to look at the first and second paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. Our American Founders staked this country on “self-evident truths” that stem from “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God. They did so in order to justify the dedication of America to individual liberty. That is, that liberty comes from our humanity and not from government. If the Declaration is to be believed worldwide, then America’s “self-evident truths” are not just unique to our country and to Americans, but they apply to all men and women everywhere. They are as true today as they were in 1776. This universal principle of Liberty and the defense of it is what inspires men and women to enlist in our armed services and to spread and defend it all across the planet. The oath that our enlisted men and women take reads: “I, ____________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… “

Americans still believe in these ideals. They are still willing to fight for them, whether as enlisted men and women or as citizen-activists.

Our founding values and founding principles, our founding documents, our nation’s devotion to individual Liberty, and our foundations in, and reliance on, religion are just some reasons I love America.

Our government, created and vested with enumerated powers by the US Constitution, was initially unique and self-containing. But we all know that government has been dishonest and scheming over our 230-plus years for the sole purpose of enlarging and consolidating its powers and for taking greater and greater control over our lives, our property, and our livelihoods. If you have any doubt about this inglorious history, try comparing the “facts submitted (by the 13 colonies/states) to a candid world” in the Declaration to support their claim that Great Britain had established “an absolute tyranny” over them to the actions of our current federal government. [For additional arguments to this point, read my article “A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,” written and posted on my blogsite January 22, 2021 – https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2021/01/23/a-re-declaration-of-independence/ ]

I love this country because I love its people. They are among the most hard-working, church-going, God-fearing, industrious, affluent, and generous in the world.

Every nation has something to build a spirit of nationalism, to derive meaning and purpose and to stir in its people a sense of patriotism. Examples include a specific ethnic character, a shared history, a shared purpose for existing, a common religion. In the case of America, our sense of patriotism derives from our glorious history (although spotted and stained at times), our love and appreciation of the Declaration of Independence, our shared love and pursuit of liberty, and our appreciation of the US Constitution. In short, our patriotism and our love of country stems from an IDEAL. “We hold these truths that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”

English writer G.K. Chesterton famously observed that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” (which was/is set out brilliantly and clearly in the Declaration of Independence).

The country that I love holds a great promise for all, no matter where they may be, that all men everywhere are endowed at creation – at birth – with an inalienable right to liberty. In fact, it seems that America’s role in the world is to preserve and to spread, by example and by action, that “sacred fire of Liberty.”  I am encouraged by this reality. I am also encouraged at the groundswell of patriotism and the groundswell of activism and protest to defend our Constitution, our precious republic, and our founding values, principles, and institutions. It gives me hope. It is because of our foundational principles and values, not despite them, that America is great in my eyes.

America, for all its faults and its unglorified history, is still the land that I love. I will always love her, I will always praise her, and will always fight for her.

Diane Rufino


References

Matthew Spalding, “Why is America Exceptional?”, The Heritage Foundation.  Referenced at:  https://www.heritage.org/american-founders/report/why-america-exceptional

The Declaration of Independence – https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript

The Federalist No. 1 (Alexander Hamilton) – https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp

“John Winthrop’s Dream of a City on a Hill, 1630,” The American Yawp Reader.  Referenced at:  https://www.americanyawp.com/reader/colliding-cultures/john-winthrop-dreams-of-a-city-on-a-hill-1630/

Diane Rufino, A RE-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE,” my blogsite (ForLoveofGodandCountry), January 22, 2021.  Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2021/01/23/a-re-declaration-of-independence/ ]

Treaty of Paris (1783) – https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-40-02-0356

George Washington’s Farewell Address – https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/Washingtons_Farewell_Address.pdf

John Adams’ letter to the Massachusetts militia, October 11, 1789 –  https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-3102   and  https://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/john-adams-religion-constitution

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments