"You shall have no other gods before me." - The First Commandment
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." - The First Amendment
In its latest ruling on church and state, the Supreme Court has once again tortured itself and the public (not to mention God, which the court increasingly wishes the public wouldn't mention).
In one opinion, the court seemed to invoke a doctrine more suitable to good wine than good law.
A display of the Ten Commandments at the Texas Capitol building in Austin was found to be constitutional, because the six-foot-tall monument had been there since 1961 and no one had complained about it, but framed copies of the Ten Commandments at two rural Kentucky courthouses were said by the slim majority to be unconstitutional because they were of more recent vintage and were displayed for the express purpose of advancing a particular religion.
While both votes were 5-4, one in favor of such displays and the other opposed, the court continues to refuse to offer any standard for its rulings on religion. As Justice Antonin Scalia noted, "What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."
The reason the Supreme Court has issued so many conflicting and confusing rulings on this and other subjects is that it has abandoned the Constitution as its only standard in favor of making law to suit its own purposes.
In this, the justices resemble violators of one or more of the Ten Commandments (and that includes us all): turning away from things that are designed to preserve, protect and defend us and ruling only as they see fit (see Judges 21:25).
The court ignores the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress, not the states, from "establishing" religion. By restricting what may be displayed on public property, the Court also damages the "free exercise" clause. It erects a "no trespassing" sign for people who believe in God and wish to say so on public property, which is paid for by citizens of many and no religious persuasions.
In these increasingly God-free zones, one is prohibited from speaking well of the deity, but under the "free speech" clause of the same First Amendment, one may speak ill of God without fear the authorities will cart you away.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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