George Washington, our great nation’s first president, once said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force … It is a dangerous servant and a terrible master.” Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore learned that lesson the hard way last week, when a judicial panel allegedly of his peers decided to throw him out of office because he refused to obey a faulty order issued by one of Uncle Sam’s judges.
Moore’s “crime,” the panel said, was his decision not to remove a huge granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments he had placed in the lobby of the state’s judicial building in Montgomery. The federal courts had ruled the monument’s placement in a state building amounted to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion – a ruling that is so far off-base it defies all parameters of common sense and legal logic.
Rather, Moore’s fate smells of an attempt by both judicial bodies to punish an independence-minded jurist who bucked the system in order to ensure justice. The problem is, to punish Moore, federal and state panels are contributing to the destruction of a once-model form of government and the country to which it belongs.
To wit, Moore’s monument supposedly violates the First Amendment’s so-called Establishment Clause, which bans government-established religions. Trouble is, Moore’s monument neither establishes a religion nor does it equate to a government sponsorship of said religion. Furthermore, the clause doesn’t even apply to Justice Moore and the state of Alabama.
The amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [my emphasis]; 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.”
Does Moore’s monument constitute a congressional respect of religion? Is it the same as actually establishing a religion? Or is it simply his “free exercise” of Christianity?
Placing a monument of the Ten Commandments – or one of Buddha, Allah or the Wicked Witch of the West – is instead akin to exercising one’s faith in the religious entity in which one believes. The fact that said monument just may happen to be in a government building has nothing – nothing – in common with a congressional mandate ordering Americans to “respect” [as in practice) one form of religion over another. That is what the Establishment Clause sought to prevent.
But activist federal judges, increasingly aided by useful idiots in the states, have bastardized the First Amendment’s religious clauses to mean Americans can only freely exercise their religious preferences in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or the basement of a home. That’s not what our founders had in mind when they wrote and approved the First Amendment.
Moore was punished by his peers because he disobeyed a federal judge’s order. Well, if the federal government is all-powerful, why are there local, county and state courts in the first place? If all it takes is a federal court to say, “You can do this or you can’t do that,” what function do state courts play?
Does Moore’s monument really say Alabama “officially” recognizes only the Christian religion? Did the placement of the monument constitute a prohibition on the practice of any other religious faith in the state?
What if the monument had been placed with a disclaimer that read: “The views expressed here may or may not reflect those of the government of Alabama or its people” – would that statement have passed the federal smell test?
In dozens of instances over several decades, federal courts have overstepped their bounds and trampled the people’s rights by overturning state court decisions. Each time it has emboldened the federal judiciary to claim even more power. When Justice Moore argued the federal courts had no jurisdiction in this matter, he was sticking his finger in the eye of a beast that has grown far too large to subdue single-handedly.
Would jurists from his own state have been as brave to lend assistance by supporting Moore, it would have sent an unmistakable message to Washington: “We in Alabama are no longer yours for the taking.” But they cowered in obedient submission instead, an action which has hastened the demise of freedom.
George Washington was insightful in his statement about government. We know now he wasn’t just talking about the English crown.