They are the reason the Patriot Guard was formed and the primary reason I began riding with the PGR.
However this is not new news. The Lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on July of 2006.
What is new as reported in the Washington Post on Monday, June 29, 2009 is, " A federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that Missouri cannot enforce the protest ban until the lawsuit is resolved.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied without comment Missouri's appeal of that order barring enforcement."
Though we suspect that the Supreme court will eventually have to hear the case. The problem is appears to be that MO. has two laws with different wording. The ACLU stipulates the law,
"It bans protests in public areas and public streets and sidewalks in a way that the Supreme Court has never allowed to happen," Rothert said.However there are legal experts who believe that the ACLU has a legitimate case here:
The Thomas Jefferson Freedom of Speech Institute filed a brief on Phelps' behalf. Attorney Robert O'Neil said that he personally finds Westboro Baptist and their message distasteful, but he thinks censoring them would send a harsh message regarding freedom of speech.
"Well, if you suppress their message, then government can also suppress other messages which they disfavor."
MU Law Professor and Free Speech Expert Christina Wells thinks Phelps and Westboro Baptist have a legitimate case based on the restrictions the law gives.
"There are lots of problems with the Missouri statute, so I think the Phelps unquestionably have, in my mind, a viable free speech claim."The first amendment meant exactly what it said:
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.the original bill of rights were added to the constitution as the first "ten" amendments when:
— The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
ideological conflict between Federalists and anti-Federalists, dating from the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, threatened the overall ratification of the new national Constitution. It largely responded to the Constitution's influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty.Wikipedia
However the Constitution and the Bill of rights applied to the federal government and states were beholden to the constitution only where expressly mentioned. For example the first amendment states congress shall make no law establishing religion. Yet many states did. For example:
The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 disestablished the Anglican church, but until 1835 the NC Constitution allowed only Protestants to hold public office. From 1835-1876 it allowed only Christians (including Catholics) to hold public office. Article VI, Section 8 of the current NC Constitution forbids only atheists from holding public office. Such clauses were held by the United States Supreme Court to be unenforceable in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, when the court ruled unanimously that such clauses constituted a religious test incompatible with First and Fourteenth Amendment protections. WikipediaWhich is why despite stating in the Declaration of Independence that, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," slavery was allowed to exist in the states.
Our founding fathers left that out understanding that men would place economy over human bondage and suffering.
It was not until after the civil war that the 14th amendment, sometimes referred to as the "First Amendment II" in 1868, section one of which which reads as follows:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.This is the amendment that "insured" the first amendment. In Gitlow v, New York (1925) the court declared :
that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had extended the reach of certain provisions of the First Amendment—specifically the provisions protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press—to the governments of the individual states.
And we have continued to fight over what the first amendment means ever since. When a study of the history by which founders relied upon to arrive at the "FIRST" amendment clearly indicates that it means exactly what it says.
Of course there are still arguments over States rights vs. Federal rights. But would any reasonable citizens among us wish to turn our right to Free Speech over to the state? Taking a vacation or business trip would be difficult if you had to learn what could or could not be said in every state you traveled through.
An article in the New York Times about a Canadian free press issue printed the following:
Mr. Silverglate seemed to be echoing the words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., whose 1919 dissent in Abrams v. United States eventually formed the basis for modern First Amendment law.Yes there have been exceptions, such as the proverbial, "yelling fire in a theater". But they must meet stringent requirements. Or at least had to in the past.
“The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market,” Justice Holmes wrote.
“I think that we should be eternally vigilant,” he added, “against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death.”
The last thing we need in this present day environment of "political correctness", "Patriot Acts," the demise of "Habeas Corpus" and ever increasing governmental powers is a Court legislating from the bench watering down the constitution. Leave it alone while it still has meaning and protects us all.
Remember, it is the document many soldiers have died sworn to protect.
Besides, with out the "Westboro protesters" we would not have the "Patriot Guard". My experience riding with that group has convinced me that the Patriot Guard has become much more than a buffer between funerals and protesters. We keep the soldiers mission and his plight up front where it belongs.
I believe the Patriot Guard is doing good in area's it never imagined when it first formed. I have seen it.
We must never let fear, fear of words, fear of terrorists or even fear of our own government scare us into allowing the government to be the arbiter of our freedoms. That is our responsibility.
According to Bartleby.com at the close of the constitutional convention a lady asked Benjamin Franklin as he left Independence Hall, "Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.”
Note the word Republic as opposed to Democracy. Our forefathers knew what they were doing, for a democracy is it's own form of tyranny.
Does this mean I will stand idly by while "protesters" exercise their rights? No! I have my rights also.
And I will exercise them. It is an obligation that must be paid to insure my own freedom! Is doing so inconvenient at times? Yes. No one ever said Freedom was easy.Add to Technorati Favorites