So what is Congress waiting for? All federal courts except the U.S. Supreme Court were created by Congress under Article III, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution, so Congress can uncreate, limit or withdraw jurisdiction from them, as well as create "exceptions" to Supreme Court jurisdiction.
Congress has used this authority scores of times. Most recently, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., inserted a provision in legislation to prohibit the courts from hearing cases about brush clearing in South Dakota. Surely, the Pledge of Allegiance is equally as important.
The House, but not the Senate, inched a little closer toward doing its duty in July when it passed two amendments sponsored by Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., to stop enforcement of two obnoxious federal court rulings. One amendment, which passed 307-119, prohibits spending federal money to enforce the 9th U.S. Circuit Court's anti-pledge decision, and the second, adopted 260-161, does likewise for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court ruling that the Ten Commandments may not be posted in the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court.
A national campaign to exorcise the Ten Commandments from public buildings has been accelerating since the Supreme Court ruled in Stone vs. Graham (1980) that they may not be posted in public school classrooms. Recent cases have popped up in at least 13 states to force removal of the Ten Commandments from all public buildings and squares.
The showdown in Montgomery, Ala., stems from the decision by state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to place a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the state courthouse. However, the other eight Alabama justices - seven Republicans, one Democrat - voted Aug. 21 to have the monument removed to avoid having the state pay $5,000 per day in federal fines.
Despite a vitriolic hammering by the media, Moore has the public on his side and crowds numbering in the thousands have gathered in Montgomery in the August heat to support him.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt's Ten Commandments Defense Act, H.R. 2045, declares that the display of the Ten Commandments on state property is within the powers the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states, thereby removing challenges from federal court jurisdiction. The Alabama Republican's bill passed the House in 1999, but not the Senate, and currently has 64 co-sponsors.
Since the Supreme Court this year voided Texas' sodomy law without any rational justification in the U.S. Constitution, pro-homosexual commentary in the media has been preparing the public for court rulings that legalize same-sex marriages and invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996 and enacted in 38 states. But since the Lawrence decision, a Gallup Poll has reported a drop of 12 points in public support for same-sex marriages.
It is possible that the Supreme Court may use procedural grounds to duck the lead cases on the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, and the definition of marriage. The dozens of cases arising all over the country make it imperative for Congress to withdraw jurisdiction on these three issues from all federal courts. Any member of Congress who defaults in this duty should be defeated in 2004.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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