In God do you trust?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Stridarious, Dec 4, 2002.

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  1. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
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    More specifically, Article II, Section 1 specifies who can run for President:

    "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

    It limits eligibility to natural-born citizens. Amendment XIV, Section 1 makes clear the definition of "citizen:"

    "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."


    Seriously, the Constitution is a document that is VERY easy to understand. Its language isn't that dated, and it was written with clarity IN MIND. There's no reason that ANY American leaves junior high school without at least a basic knowledge of the document.

    I still have my pocket Constitution from junior high, but I've also found online versions of the "Charters of Freedom", the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I encourage anyone with the time and interest to read through AT LEAST the Constitution and its amendments.
  2. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    The Constitution also says (in Article 1, Section 2) who can elect Representatives:

    "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states"

    You would think, then, that all the people of a particular state could vote for their Representatives, but apparently laws restricting who can vote are still constitutional.

    Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution places restrictions on who can become president, but it doesn't say those are the only restrictions - does it?

  3. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Well, it's odd that you should say that, because apparently the right to vote didn't fall under the "equal protection" of the law. The 14th Amendment didn't extend the vote to women; the 19th did.

    Giving women the vote required a Constitutional amendment because determining who could vote was left up to the states by the Constitution. The only way to "trump" the state laws was to add a constitutional amendment.

    It is a little different with trying to limit who could run for President because of two reasons:

    1) The Constitution gives specific criteria on the qualifications for President.

    2) The Constitution does not allow Congress (or the states) to modify that criteria (as it does for other things, like the Judiciary). Congress has many powers, but the ability to set the qualifications to serve in the highest office of the Executive Branch is not one of them. That would therefore require a constitutional amendment.

    Kimball Kinnison
  4. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    The Constitution does not allow Congress (or the states) to modify that criteria (as it does for other things, like the Judiciary). Congress has many powers, but the ability to set the qualifications to serve in the highest office of the Executive Branch is not one of them.

    You mean it doesn't expressly give them permission to modify the criteria, or it's expressly prohibited?

    And even if that were the case, couldn't the individual states place limits on whom their presidential electors could elect?
  5. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

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    Mar 19, 2002
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    womberty, with all due respect, what exactly are trying to demonstrate with these questions?
  6. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    That if your arguments about the wording of the Constitution and historical precendents prove that putting "In God We Trust" on money is constitutional, so is a law preventing women from becoming President.

    You said you didn't want to go through the same arguments again, so I'm trying a different approach. :D
  7. Cheveyo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 5
    Nice new approach, womberty. :D

    Bubba, you said: Seriously, the Constitution is a document that is VERY easy to understand. Its language isn't that dated, and it was written with clarity IN MIND.

    Why, then, do we have an entire branch of government dedicated to interpreting it? And why has it been interpreted differently from time to time? An example of this is giving women and those of African lineage the right to vote, when--if you read the plain, simple words--leads you to believe they already had the right to vote.

    And yet they didn't.

    The Constitution has been corrected (ie ammended) many times. It's not flawless.
  8. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Let me extend my example, and see what you think.

    Suppose that my state passed a law saying that no woman could ever be placed on the ballot for President. Now I would have some serious problems with such a law, so I would challenge its constitutionality. But is it really unconstitutional?

    Consider the following:

    While the portion of Article 2 that outlines the qualifications for the presidency is gender neutral,
    No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

    much of the rest of Article 2 refers to the President using the pronouns "he" and "his."


    And while it would seem that the 14th Amendment requires that women be given the same rights as men,
    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.

    clearly, it doesn't, because the 19th Amendment was required before women were given the right to vote.


    Add to this the fact that every President ever to serve has been a man, and you have a pretty strong argument that the Founding Fathers never intended women to serve as President - so the law would be constitutional.

    Wouldn't it?
  9. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    That's an interesting point, but what does it prove? There may be a loophole there, but if it was ever tested, there can be little doubt what the outcome would be, even if it required a Constitutional Amendment. In the case of the word God appearing in the national motto, currency, pledge of allegiance, etc. it's the same thing. It's primarily there because the people support it, and through Congress it has been made law.
  10. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
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    Certainly, the Constitution may need changing, but - as in all things - there's a right way and a wrong way to go about changing it.

    The right way: amending it, as proscribed in Article V.

    The wrong way: pretending the Constitution says something that it doesn't.
  11. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    That's an interesting point, but what does it prove?

    Well, I'm hoping it proves that putting "In God We Trust" on our money and making it our national motto is as unconstitutional as prohibiting women from servnig as President.

    I would hope that one could argue that women have the same constitutional right to run for President that men have, but it would require an interpretation of the Constitution that says "he" does not mean "that man," but rather, "that person [regardless of gender]," and it would perhaps require that we ignore (or at least, overrule) the original intent of the Founding Fathers.
  12. Darth Mischievous Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 12, 1999
    star 6
    The IGWT debate and a woman as President argument are two completely different issues.

    Apples and oranges.
  13. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    Well, I'm hoping it proves that putting "In God We Trust" on our money and making it our national motto is as unconstitutional as prohibiting women from servnig as President.

    It looks to me like you've proved that both are Constitutional.


  14. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    The IGWT debate and a woman as President argument are two completely different issues.

    Both are issues about constitutionality. Specifically, can the constitution be interpreted in some way that is different from what the Founding Fathers intended, and from the way it may have historically have been interpreted, or does that require an amendment?
  15. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    It looks to me like you've proved that both are Constitutional.

    Perhaps I have. And if so, don't we need an amendment to ensure women's right to serve as President?

    In fact - don't we need an amendment before women could do so? The defense I gave for the hypothetical law would also serve to prove that a woman serving as President is already unconstitutional.


    And didn't a bunch of people say the Equal Rights Amendment was unnecessary, because women already have equal rights? If that's true, I shouldn't need an amendment to get rid of "In God We Trust," because the Constitution already forbids it.
  16. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Well, I'm hoping it proves that putting "In God We Trust" on our money and making it our national motto is as unconstitutional as prohibiting women from servnig as President.

    I would hope that one could argue that women have the same constitutional right to run for President that men have, but it would require an interpretation of the Constitution that says "he" does not mean "that man," but rather, "that person [regardless of gender]," and it would perhaps require that we ignore (or at least, overrule) the original intent of the Founding Fathers.


    Do you have such an argument?

    It doesn't seem that what you want to argue has actually ever happened: the women's suffrage movement, for example, culminated in a Constitutional amendment (XIX), not a mere re-interpretation of the document as-is.


    Both are issues about constitutionality. Specifically, can the constitution be interpreted in some way that is different from what the Founding Fathers intended, and from the way it may have historically have been interpreted, or does that require an amendment?

    I don't think it can: as I've argued before, a document that can mean anything, ceases to mean anything in particular.

    Why, then, should we continue down this road? "In God We Trust" isn't MANDATED by the Constitution: it's only PERMITTED. Pursuading Congress to change their mind is still an option if you want the motto off the coin.

    Of course, it's a more difficult option: by a LARGE margin, Congress has voted to uphold the motto, and the President has signed their act into law.

    Is that it? Do you recognize the futility (for the time being) of going through Congress, so you want to circumvent the process and go through the courts?

    Is this issue SO important that it justifies trampling over Congress' powers to write laws that fit within the framework of the Constitution? Is this issue SO important that it justifies a complete disregard for the will of the people - as expressed by who they elect?
  17. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    Is this issue SO important that it justifies a complete disregard for the will of the people - as expressed by who they elect?

    The rights of the individual outweigh the will of the majority.


    And by the way, would it currently be unconstitutional for a woman to run for President? Why or why not?
  18. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    womberty:

    Look again at Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment:

    "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." [emphasis mine]

    One of the CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED priveleges of citizens meeting certain standards (among other things, a natural-born citizen at least 35 years old) is running for President. The state CANNOT abridge this privelege. It could not be any clearer.

    The hypothetical law breaks the 14th Amendment. Hence, we don't need ANOTHER amendment to prevent it.


    And didn't a bunch of people say the Equal Rights Amendment was unnecessary, because women already have equal rights? If that's true, I shouldn't need an amendment to get rid of "In God We Trust," because the Constitution already forbids it.

    By what logic do you draw this conclusion?
  19. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    Can't edit, for some odd reason.

    The rights of the individual outweigh the will of the majority.

    Perhaps, but two things:

    1) The rights of the individual DO NOT OUTWEIGH the Constitution ITSELF.

    2) WHAT RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED?

    Once again, racists surely disagree with the 15th Amendment, but the racists' right to disagree and freedom of speech HAVE NOT been violated.

    Likewise, I argue that while it IS true some people disagree with "In God We Trust," their right to disagree and freedom of religion HAVE NOT been violated.

    Where have I gone astray?
  20. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    One of the CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED priveleges of citizens meeting certain standards (among other things, a natural-born citizen at least 35 years old) is running for President. The state CANNOT abridge this privelege. It could not be any clearer.

    The hypothetical law breaks the 14th Amendment. Hence, we don't need ANOTHER amendment to prevent it.


    You would think that, but then, you would think that voting was a protected privilege, too. Apparently it isn't, because even the 14th Amendment only concerns itself with the privilege of "male citizens" to vote.


    By what logic do you draw this conclusion?

    Because to say that the Constitution gives women equal rights through the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, you have to interpret it in some way that the authors didn't intend. And if you can do that, you can also interpret the 1st Amendment to mean that religious proclamations are unconstitutional.
  21. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    The rights of the individual outweigh the will of the majority.

    Actually, a majority of the people have to agree that a right exists before an individual can claim it. The rights protected in the Constitution are only protected because a majority of the people ratified it.
  22. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    1) The rights of the individual DO NOT OUTWEIGH the Constitution ITSELF.

    They do if those rights are truly inalienable, as you claim in the Separation of Church and State thread. ;)


    2) WHAT RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED?

    The right to freedom of religion, including the right to live in a country where the government does not endorse a particular religion.

    Or, in the case of my hypothetical example, the right to enjoy all the same privileges and opportunities regardless of gender.


    Actually, a majority of the people have to agree that a right exists before an individual can claim it.

    True; however, if today a majority of people were willing to vote for a national church, it would still be unconstitutional, because our Constitution has the protection of individual rights built into it.
  23. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    True; however, if today a majority of people were willing to vote for a national church, it would still be unconstitutional, because our Constitution has the protection of individual rights built into it.

    If there was a large enough majority for it, it could be done by amendment, like anything else. Since a national church is something that religious individuals would oppose as much as those who are non-religious, it's not something that's likely to happen, but it could theoretically be done.
  24. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    And didn't a bunch of people say the Equal Rights Amendment was unnecessary, because women already have equal rights? If that's true, I shouldn't need an amendment to get rid of "In God We Trust," because the Constitution already forbids it.

    "By what logic do you draw this conclusion?"

    Because to say that the Constitution gives women equal rights through the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, you have to interpret it in some way that the authors didn't intend. And if you can do that, you can also interpret the 1st Amendment to mean that religious proclamations are unconstitutional.


    I see. I believe you misunderstand American History.

    The Equal Rights Amendment was NOT what became the 19th Amendment.

    The ERA was:

    Proposed but unratified amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed mainly to invalidate many state and federal laws that discriminated against women. Its central tenet was that sex should not be a determining factor in establishing the legal rights of individuals. It was first introduced in Congress in 1923, shortly after women obtained the right to vote. It was finally approved by the U.S. Senate 49 years later (1972) but was subsequently ratified by only 30 of the 50 state legislatures. Critics claimed it would cause women to lose privileges and protections, such as exemption from compulsory military service and economic support by their husbands. Supporters, led by the National Organization for Women, argued that discriminatory state and federal laws left many women in a state of economic dependency.


    The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified August 18th, 1920 - three years before ERA was introduced to Congress, 52 years before the Senate approved it.

    All the debates surrounding the ERA assumed a Constitution that ALREADY HAD the 19th Amendment.


    "1) The rights of the individual DO NOT OUTWEIGH the Constitution ITSELF."

    They do if those rights are truly inalienable, as you claim in the Separation of Church and State thread. ;)


    Cute, but no. That's why we had AMENDED the Constitution to outlaw slavery (Amendment XIII). If rights DID outweigh the Constitution, no amendment would have been necessary.

    Even if an amendment was passed that said, "Humans have no rights," I still have rights. Even when no English law recognized the rights of the American colonists, the Declaration of Independence STILL proclaimed that we have rights. THAT's what is meant by inalienable.


    "2) WHAT RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED?"

    The right to freedom of religion, including the right to live in a country where the government does not endorse a particular religion.


    Funny, I don't see "the right to live in a country where the government does not endorse a particular religion" ANYWHERE in the Constitution.

    At any rate, the more general freedom of religion IS NOT being violated.

    If it were, than a racist's free speech would be violated by the 15th Amendment, in which the government proclaims equal protection under the law, regardless of race.

    OR I'm missing a subtlety between the two. WHAT is that subtlety?


    "Actually, a majority of the people have to agree that a right exists before an individual can claim it."

    True; however, if today a majority of people were willing to vote for a national church, it would still be unconstitutional, because our Constitution has the protection of individual rights built into it.


    I grant that the First Amendment DOES ALREADY prevent a national church (no new amendment required), but I don't see where the first claim is coming from: "a majority of the people have to agree that a right exists before an individual can claim it."

    When the Second Continental Congress asserted the rights of all men in the Declaration of Independence, the monarchies and tyrannies in England, France, the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world PROBABLY disagreed.

    Guess what? Doesn't mean they were wrong.
  25. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    I probably phrased that incorrectly. There is the moral and philosophical question of human rights, and then there is the question of what rights are protected by law under the Constution. An inalienable right may or may not exist, but it has to be agreed to and written into law by a majority of the people for it to be protected.

    Specifically, some people feel they have a "right" not to live in a country where "In God We Trust" appears on their currency. The majority of people don't agree with that view, so the law stands as it is.
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