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“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.”
– James Madison, “Federalist No. 45,” Jan. 26, 1788
On Dec. 2, 2005, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kennelly ruled that Illinois restrictions on the sale of sexually explicit, violent video games to minors is unconstitutional and barred the state from enforcing a law passed by their Legislature. Opponents of this law, which would have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2006, declared it a restriction on free speech.
Judge Kennelly agreed by ruling “the law would interfere with the First Amendment and there wasn’t a compelling enough reason, such as preventing imminent violence, to allow that.” Kennelly further went on to say, “In this country, the state lacks the authority to ban protected speech on the ground that it affects the listener’s or observer’s thoughts and attitudes.”
These retailers who complained so loudly about this law have not had their free-speech rights abridged. They can still sell to anyone over the age of 18. The 50 state legislatures in this republic are part of a union, but they are also separate, sovereign republics unto themselves. State legislatures routinely pass legislation that restricts the sale or consumption of certain products by minors. For example, states pass legislation that prohibits minors from purchasing and consuming alcohol and tobacco. The key word here is minors.
The retailers of these videos displaying violence and sexually explicit material operate within the states of the Union and are therefore under the control of the state just like any other retail enterprise. The Illinois State Legislature passed this law, not to violate the free speech of retailers who sell this garbage, but to restrict sales to minors. This is their right under the 10th Amendment.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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.
How, pray tell, is restricting the sale of any video to minors by a local retailer a violation of free speech? Congress isn’t in Illinois attempting to abridge free speech. Selling a video is now considered an act of free speech? How absurd, and yet here we have another federal judge stomping on the rights of the states under some flimsy and silly ruling. Of course, Judge Kennelly isn’t worried about any rotten decisions he makes because he knows there is no oversight of federal judges by the counterfeit U.S. Senate.
Another ruling by a federal judge that has received no media attention is the latest one in the Bill Benson case I covered in my column, “Checkmate,” a few weeks ago. This very important First Amendment case has taken another twist by a compromised federal judge. Benson’s attorney filed a brief that backed the U.S. attorneys into a hole so deep, they should have disappeared. Instead of finding in favor of Benson, federal magistrate Judge Keys simply ignored a prevailing Seventh Circuit ruling in favor of the hand that feeds him.
Benson’s legal team has filed their latest brief in opposition to this latest travesty. So far, not one single conservative radio talk-show host, cable show or mainstream media has covered one minute of this critical case. Judge Keys should be removed from the bench, but he knows that won’t happen.
Every day we hear from conservative leaders in Congress, talk radio, cable shows and on conservative websites all about how the ACLU – backed up by federal judges – is running amok over the First Amendment and its massive effort to erase Christ from America. There is and always has been a remedy that the Republican-controlled Congress (since January 1995) have refused to execute: Abolish the unconstitutional Civil Rights Attorney’s Fees Awards Act of 1976. All this talk, but never any action to permanently fix the problem.
This issue is monumental in this country because these out-of-control federal judges are ruining people’s lives, e.g., the Kelo decision. Instead of getting tough with federal judges who ignore the Constitution and are legislating from the bench, what do these jokers in the U.S. Senate spend their time doing? Last week, the Herald Tribune and other media outlets carried this earth-shattering story: “U.S. Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, both Democrats, recently proposed that the Senate recognize the release of the album that catapulted their fellow New Jerseyite, Springsteen, into stardom three decades ago. The GOP leadership in the Senate didn’t give the resolution a hearing.”
The U.S. Senate will waste time on bickering over a resolution to honor some rock singer, but they sit back and allow these federal judges – including U.S. Supreme Court justices – to continue destroying the rights of Americans and stomping on states’ rights with their unconstitutional and convoluted decisions. Thirty-three U.S. Senate seats are unlawfully up for re-election in 2006. If the voters once again reward these ineffective slackers by voting them back into office, the destruction of everything we hold dear will continue.