Attacks on Our Religious Liberties
40 years, 10 months ago, I joined the Marine Corps. Amidst the reasons for joining was to fight against the enemies of the Freedom of Religion. The 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…” It is known as the “Free Exercise Clause.”
While I always knew it was possible and likely probable at some point, I honestly never thought I would see an all out and out attack against the 1st Amendment in my life time. HOWEVER……
Many of you may have become aware, Justice Samuel Alito gave a speech to the Federalist Society via teleconference on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. It caused an immediate media frenzy, most of which decried him from doing so, especially in his addressing many of the current situations facing America. And you might have guessed from my opening statement, one of those topics was Religious Freedom. The following came from a google search after becoming made aware of the speech.
Some legal experts were also troubled by Alito's discussion of the 1990 Supreme Court decision Employment Division v. Smith, which said that an individual's religious beliefs cannot excuse compliance with an otherwise valid law.
That precedent is at the center of a case argued before the Supreme Court earlier this month involving religious liberty and a municipal anti-discrimination policy toward LGBT people. The Catholic plaintiffs are asking the justices to overturn the Smith decision.
"It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right. And that marks a surprising turn of events," Alito said.
I stongly encourage you to check out the entire speech https://youtu.be/tYLZL4GZVbA starting at time hack 15:14
Consequently, I had to take a look at the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith case to see what it was all about, and what I found surprised me. The case was about two people who were suing the Employment Division of Nevada for denying a claim for unemployment that had resulted for being fired due to ingesting Peyote, which in Nevada is classified as an illegal drug. Now, bear in mind that the Native American Indians have been using Peyote in their religious ceremonies long before the Europeans hit American soil. And yet, at some politician’s whim, they make the substance illegal.
The Supreme Court’s rationalization for the majority ruling, was that the law making Peyote illegal was not “targeting” anyone in particular. The law included “EVERYONE” which according to the argument, was not violating the 1st Amendment.
In a side note, I find who rendered the Majority Opinion and who rendered the Dissenting Opinion to be VERY ironic.
Justice Antonin Scalia who was described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court's conservative wing, and wrote: “It is a permissible reading of the [free exercise clause]...to say that if prohibiting the exercise of religion is not the object of the [law] but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended.... To make an individual's obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law's coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State's interest is ‘compelling’ –permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, ‘to become a law unto himself,’ –contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense. To adopt a true ‘compelling interest’ requirement for laws that affect religious practice would lead towards anarchy.” (emphasis, mine)
In concurring with Scalia, Justice Sandra Day O’Conner wrote, “However, First Amendment rights are not absolute. (emphasis, mine) The law tolerates burdens on the free exercise of religion that serve a compelling governmental interest and are narrowly tailored to meet that interest. "The compelling interest test effectuates the First Amendment's command that religious liberty is an independent liberty, that it occupies a preferred position, and that the Court will not permit encroachment upon this liberty, whether direct or indirect, unless required by clear and compelling governmental interests of the highest order."
However, what is MOST surprising to me is that the Dissenting opinion came from Justice Harry Blackmun, who ultimately became one of the most liberal justices on the Court and is best known as the author of the Court's opinion in Roe v. Wade, which prohibited many state and federal restrictions on abortion. AND YET… wrote the following in his opinion statement: “...a government interest in symbolism, even symbolism for so worthy a cause as the abolition of unlawful drugs, cannot suffice to abrogate the constitutional rights of individuals.” (emphasis, mine)
You would have thought the opposite justices would have written the opinions. It goes to show why the founding fathers expected the American Citizenry to be knowledgeable about court decisions.
And don’t even get me started on the Masterpiece Bakery case in Colorado or the Wedding Photographer in New Mexico, or the new discrimination laws in Virginia, WHICH ALL OF THESE CASES ARE AFFECTED BY THE 1990 Supreme Court case.
Folks, I became aware of the attacks on our “Freedom of Religion and the FREE EXERCISE THEREOF” within 6 months of my retirement from the Marine Corps when Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was unconstitutionally removed from his office for an unconstitutional reason.
The thing that shocked me about it most about the situation was that the prosecuting attorney was the Alabama Attorney General, Bill Pryor, who was elected as a staunch conservative Republican AND the Governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, who was also elected as a staunch conservative Republican. Furthermore, the sitting President of the United States of America, was George Bush, also elected as a staunch conservative Republican.
It was in that moment of discovery, that I realized the betrayal of my 22 years Marine Corps service to my country by BOTH the Republicans and Democrats.
Obviously, you can NOT trust either of the major parties. Both of the major parties are betraying our country and they are both permitting this completely UNCONSTITUTIONAL ATTACK ON OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES.
As a consequence, in November of 2003, I took the Republican petitions that I had gotten signed to run for office into the Bond County, Illinois Republican Headquarters and tore them up and through them on the desk of Doug Marty, the Bond County Republican Chairman, and told him that I am no longer a Republican and joined the “Third Party” political effort to save our country.
Now, I want to tell you about a New Political Party, the United America Party, that is poised to take this country by storm. It is a party which will destroy corruption and restore proper principles to our government by holding its own candidates and officer accountable. Consequently, the UAP will produce men and women you can trust with our government.
If you are as deeply concerned about the overt attack on our religious liberties under the guise of “otherwise valid laws”. You must join our effort to organize a strong, viable party that can take on the two headed beast that is destroying the country that you and I love.
Or visit us at UnitedAmericaParty.org