In God do you trust?

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

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  1. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    I see. I believe you misunderstand American History.

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


    Wow, really? Thanks for clearing that up!


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

    I realize that. However, the existence of the 19th Amendment shows that the 14th Amendment didn't give women all the same rights and privileges as men. So, unless you think that voting was the only right or privilege not extended to women by the 14th Amendment, or you think that the 19th Amendment somehow means that not just voting, but all other rights and privileges not extended by the 14th Amendment, now extend to women, I don't see how you can say the Constitution already gives women all the rights the ERA would have given them.
  2. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

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    Mar 19, 2002
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    It certainly didn't seem clear that you realized the difference between Amendment XIX and the ERA: sorry if I jumped to an incorrect conclusion.

    I don't think the ERA would have been redundant. If it HAD been, why would NOW have pushed so hard for it? It would have protected other rights.

    But that doesn't mean that the ERA would be necessary for a woman to run for President: Amendment XIV covers that... so I don't see the relevance.


    If we could return to a topic I've brought up a couple times...

    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?


    If other governmental proclamations do NOT violate free speech (which I think is clearly the case), how does "In God We Trust" violate freedom of religion?
  3. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    But that doesn't mean that the ERA would be necessary for a woman to run for President: Amendment XIV covers that... so I don't see the relevance.

    If the 14th Amendment ensures that women can run for President, then the 1st Amendment ensures that the government will endorse no religion.


    EDIT:
    If other governmental proclamations do NOT violate free speech (which I think is clearly the case), how does "In God We Trust" violate freedom of religion?

    We're back to the argument that "In God We Trust" violates the establishment clause, not the free exercise clause. I don't think the comparison to free speech is relevant in this argument.
  4. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
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    If the 14th Amendment ensures that women can run for President, then the 1st Amendment ensures that the government will endorse no religion.

    Care to explain, again, the logic behind this argument? Particularly because the First Amendment's wording is not making a law "endorsing a religion" but "respecting an establishment of religion." The intent of the authors clearly doesn't imply that relgious proclamations are illegal.

    And, on reconsideration, I'm probably wrong about the Fourteenth Amendment being extended to women, given its orginal intent and Section 2's use of the phrase "male citizens."

    All apologies: I'm much stronger on the First and Second Amendments, as current debates tend to focus on them.


    "If other governmental proclamations do NOT violate free speech (which I think is clearly the case), how does 'In God We Trust' violate freedom of religion?"

    We're back to the argument that "In God We Trust" violates the establishment clause, not the free exercise clause. I don't think the comparison to free speech is relevant in this argument.


    Actually, it violates neither clause, as is clear by the intent of the Amendment's authors.

    At any rate, I DO think the comparison to free speech is relevant. Even beyond the constitutional issue, y'all seem to insist that IGWT violates freedom of religion, and I want to understand how.

    If this is a case, as you claim, where "the rights of the individual outweigh the will of the majority," then SURELY IGWT must violate some individual right to worship.

    If that's the case, then logic DOES dictate that EVERY government proclamation likewise violates free speech.

    Explain how this is irrelevant or where my logic is faulty.
  5. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    Kimball_Kinnison:
    If you have a problem with the interpretation that is historically accurate, it requires an amendment to correct, not reinterpretation.

    What do you mean by "historically accurate"?

    There have been occasions when interpretations have changed due to different times and different people.

    The example I know best is Brown v. Board of Education (1954) which overturned an earlier Court ruling in Plessy v. Furguson (1896). The latter ruling had declared that segregation was constitutional. Yet the former, made many years later, declared that it was not. Same situation, different reactions. No constitution pertaining to segregation was passed between 1896 and 1954.

    I sincerely doubt that any proposition, made at this time, to ban religious references through an amendment would pass, given how the courts have dealt with this issue. Our nation is simply still all too mired in Christianity.
  6. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    Care to explain, again, the logic behind this argument? Particularly because the First Amendment's wording is not making a law "endorsing a religion" but "respecting an establishment of religion." The intent of the authors clearly doesn't imply that relgious proclamations are illegal.

    Okay, for one thing, the more recent Supreme Court rulings on the establishment clause use an "endorsement test" to decide whether something is constitutional, i.e., does a particular action on the part of the government endorse a specific religion?

    Now, me (or the Supreme Court) interpreting "make no law regarding an establishment of religion" as saying "endorse no religion" is similar to interpreting "he" in Article 2 to mean "he or she." Neither of these interpretations would be true to the original intent, would they? So can the Supreme Court use the "endorsement test," or does it have to stick to original intent?

    And if we stick to original intent, couldn't we also say that a woman running for President is unconstitutional, even without a new law? After all, it's pretty clear that the founders didn't intend women to be President, and that the 14th Amendment extended rights and privileges to all races, but not to women.


    At any rate, I DO think the comparison to free speech is relevant. Even beyond the constitutional issue, y'all seem to insist that IGWT violates freedom of religion, and I want to understand how.

    Well, if the government establishing a religion doesn't violate freedom of religion, why did they even bother to mention it in the 1st Amendment?


    If this is a case, as you claim, where "the rights of the individual outweigh the will of the majority," then SURELY IGWT must violate some individual right to worship.

    If that's the case, then logic DOES dictate that EVERY government proclamation likewise violates free speech.


    Here is where the establishment clause makes the difference: the 1st Amendment guarantees an individual right to free speech, but allows the government the ability to establish laws with which some people might not agree. However, in the case of religion, the 1st Amendment not only guarantees an individual right to the free exercise of religion, it also prohibits the government from making laws to establish religion.

    The 1st Amendment goes beyond protecting the individual right to practice religion by preempting any government attempt to influence citizens' religion. You could easily say that a national church organized by the government would not violate anyone's individual right to practice their own religion, as long as they were not compelled to attend services at or profess the beliefs of the national church, and as long as they were not prevented from practicing their own religion. Yet the authors of the 1st Amendment felt it necessary to forbid a national church - whether that is because it violates the individual right to free exercise, or because it is a first step to coercing citizens away from the free exercise of religion, doesn't really matter. It's pretty clear that the Constitution is taking an extra step to protect the individual right to religion - one which it does not take in protecting freedom of speech.
  7. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    "At any rate, I DO think the comparison to free speech is relevant. Even beyond the constitutional issue, y'all seem to insist that IGWT violates freedom of religion, and I want to understand how."

    Well, if the government establishing a religion doesn't violate freedom of religion, why did they even bother to mention it in the 1st Amendment?


    The First Amendment prevents the creation of a national church: THAT would violate freedom of religion in that it creates an incentive to join the national church.

    IGWT creates no such incentive. There's no reward for concurring, no punishment for disagreeing.


    It's pretty clear that the Constitution is taking an extra step to protect the individual right to religion - one which it does not take in protecting freedom of speech.

    It's equally clear that they never intended that extra step to outlaw proclamations like IGWT.
  8. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    It's equally clear that they never intended that extra step to outlaw proclamations like IGWT.

    As clear as it is that they never intended women to run for President.

    Does that make it unconstitutional for women to run for President (with no new federal or state laws, just the Constitution as is)?
  9. Bubba_the_Genius Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 2002
    star 4
    No, the intent of the 19th Amendment likely covers that eventuality.
  10. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    There have been occasions when interpretations have changed due to different times and different people.

    The example I know best is Brown v. Board of Education (1954) which overturned an earlier Court ruling in Plessy v. Furguson (1896). The latter ruling had declared that segregation was constitutional. Yet the former, made many years later, declared that it was not. Same situation, different reactions. No constitution pertaining to segregation was passed between 1896 and 1954.


    If you go back and read the decisions for the cases you cited, you can learn a few things.

    In Plessy, the court ruled that schools that were separate but equal were costitutional.

    However, almost 60 years later, in Brown, it was revealed that the "separate but equal" doctrine did match the original intent of the 14th Amendment, nor the previous rulings from the Supreme Court. I quote from the ruling:
    In the first cases in this Court construing the Fourteenth Amendment, decided shortly after its adoption, the Court interpreted it as proscribing all state-imposed discriminations against the Negro race. The doctrine of [347 U.S. 483, 491] "separate but equal" did not make its appearance in this Court until 1896 in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, supra, involving not education but transportation.
    So, in other words, Plessy was the reinterpretation (done by judicial activists) and was not in keeping with either the meaning or the intent of the 14th Amendment.

    Plessy is a perfect example of why there is a method for changing the interpretation of the Constitution (amendments) that needs to be followed. Otherwise, judicial activism can distort the intent of the Constitution any way it wishes.

    As clear as it is that they never intended women to run for President.

    Does that make it unconstitutional for women to run for President (with no new federal or state laws, just the Constitution as is)?


    Again, the Constitution has been amended in such a way that it is not unconstitutional for a woman to be elected President. Federal laws cannot change that because they cannot override the Constitution itself. (State laws are irrelevant because they cannot be applied to a federal office.)

    I will also note a fact about the English language. The English language (like Spanish, Fench, Italian, etc.) does not have a neuter pronoun. When in doubt as to the gender of a word/person, it is appropriate to use the masculine version until informed otherwise. It is only in the last few decades that items like He/She or (S)he have begun to be used.

    Kimball Kinnison
  11. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    No, the intent of the 19th Amendment likely covers that eventuality.

    How so? The 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote, but nothing further. It certainly doesn't make them eligible for the draft, as the ERA would have, so what makes you think it extends any rights and privileges beyond voting to women?


    Again, the Constitution has been amended in such a way that it is not unconstitutional for a woman to be elected President.

    Which amendment? I still contend that the 14th Amendment only extended full equality to men of all races, but not women, and that the 19th Amendment only extended to women the right to vote.


    I will also note a fact about the English language. The English language (like Spanish, Fench, Italian, etc.) does not have a neuter pronoun. When in doubt as to the gender of a word/person, it is appropriate to use the masculine version until informed otherwise.

    I realize that, but how can you be so sure that the authors of the Constitution meant "he [neuter]" and not "he [male]"? In fact, given the society of the 18th century, I would not be at all surprised to learn that the founders neither expected nor intended women to run for President.

    So if we can't apply a new interpretation of the word "religion" in the 1st Amendment, how can we apply a new interpretation of the word "he" in Article 2?
  12. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Which amendment? I still contend that the 14th Amendment only extended full equality to men of all races, but not women, and that the 19th Amendment only extended to women the right to vote.

    And in 1922, Rebecca Felton was appointed to the Senate as the first female senator. In 1932, Hattie Caraway was the first woman elected to the Senate. This was followed by Jeanette Rankin's election to the House in 1940. These were all done in the absence of constitutional challenges. The case of Rebecca Felton is especially telling, as it occurred only 2 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. If the intent had not included allowing women to hold federal office, there would have been some challenge to it. There wasn't even a failed challenge. There was none whatsoever.

    In the absence of challenges, the intent was made clear and the precedents would stand.

    Kimball Kinnison
  13. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
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    In the absence of challenges, the intent was made clear and the precedents would stand.

    Just so I understand you: if someone had challenged these women's appointments and elections, you think they would have been ruled unconstitutional?
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Just so I understand you: if someone had challenged these women's appointments and elections, you think they would have been ruled unconstitutional?

    Not at all. I am simply saying that no one challenged them. Period. This shows that no one at that time thought that it was unconstitutional, thus showing the intent to allow it.

    If someone had challeneged it, I still believe that a law forbidding women from running for president would be unconstitutional, under the 14th and 19th amendments.

    You really are grasping at straws here. Your analogy between IGWT and women's rights breaks down on a historical (or should I say hysterical) level.

    Kimball Kinnison
  15. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    This shows that no one at that time thought that it was unconstitutional, thus showing the intent to allow it.

    The intent of the people, or the intent of the amendment?


    If someone had challeneged it, I still believe that a law forbidding women from running for president would be unconstitutional, under the 14th and 19th amendments.

    If anything, the 19th Amendment points out the limited extent to which the 14th Amendment extends equal rights and equal treatment to women. So unless you can say the intent of the 19th Amendment was to extend the right to vote and all other rights and privileges not extended by the 14th Amendment to women, you can't say that the 19th Amendment extends to them the right to serve in federal office.

    And if you can say that the 19th Amendment somehow extends full equality to women where the 14th Amendment did not, why aren't we also eligible for the draft?


    EDIT:
    Your analogy between IGWT and women's rights breaks down on a historical (or should I say hysterical) level.

    Were you mocking my gender, or was that just an unfortunate pun?
  16. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    Kimball:
    So, in other words, Plessy was the reinterpretation (done by judicial activists) and was not in keeping with either the meaning or the intent of the 14th Amendment.

    Still, it shows that interpretations of the Constitution may change over time. I cannot say a decision like Brown v. Board of Education being made in the 1890's because back then the majority of Americans were more bigoted than they were in the 1950's.

    Plessy is a perfect example of why there is a method for changing the interpretation of the Constitution (amendments) that needs to be followed. Otherwise, judicial activism can distort the intent of the Constitution any way it wishes.

    True, perhaps. As hard as courts try to seem impartial, their rulings are really just opinions.

    Not at all. I am simply saying that no one challenged them. Period. This shows that no one at that time thought that it was unconstitutional, thus showing the intent to allow it.

    Just because no one challenged it doesn't mean it isn't unconstitutional.

    Just like if a teacher told his/her students that monkeys have horns that grow on their buttocks. If no student speaks up, it doesn't mean that such a statement is suddenly true.
  17. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Were you mocking my gender, or was that just an unfortunate pun?

    There was no mocking intended. I was a bit tired at work and just a little loopy. If I offended, I apologize.

    First, allow me to add a correction to my previous historical statements. Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the House of Representatives, and she was elected in 1940, but that was her second time in office. She was first elected in 1916, four years before the 19th amendment was ratified. This alone shows that women were allowed to run for any office before the 19th amendment was passed. The Constitution allowed it.

    That said, I honestly do not believe that the 19th amendment was necessary. Before you decide that I am a dinosaur or some such, allow me to explain.

    Many states, including most of those out west, had already allowed women the right to vote, and more were passing or considering such laws. Since the Constitution never specifically disenfranchised women, it should not have required a constitutional amendment to give them the right to vote. However, it passed and guaranteed that right to them.

    Still, it shows that interpretations of the Constitution may change over time. I cannot say a decision like Brown v. Board of Education being made in the 1890's because back then the majority of Americans were more bigoted than they were in the 1950's.

    But the changes in interpretation were wrong. As I cited from Brown, the cases decided immediately after the 14th amendment was passed disagreed with Plessy. The early cases (with which Plessy disagreed) were decided shortly after the 14th was ratified, making them a very good indicator of what the intent behind the amendment was. Brown simply restored the original intent.

    My previous point was about the proper way to change the interpretation of the Constitution. That point still stands, and your arguments haven't changed it. Plessy was not done properly, because it violated the original intent of the Constitution (as amended). If you wish to violate the original intent of the Constitution, the proper way is through amendment, not judicial reinterpretation. You, yourself, can see the damage that the judicial reinterpretation caused through Plessy.

    Just because no one challenged it doesn't mean it isn't unconstitutional.

    Just like if a teacher told his/her students that monkeys have horns that grow on their buttocks. If no student speaks up, it doesn't mean that such a statement is suddenly true.


    If it had been against the intent of the 19th Amendment to allow women to run for federal elective office, don't you think that at least one of the people who passed that amendment would have challenged a woman's election on constitutional grounds? The fact that not one person did challenge shows the intent behind the 19th. Remember that the court looks at both the words and the intent behind passing them when evaluating the Constitution.

    That is a lot different from a teacher teaching an incorrect fact to his students. (Note the use of the neuter pronoun.)

    Kimball Kinnison
  18. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    If it had been against the intent of the 19th Amendment to allow women to run for federal elective office, don't you think that at least one of the people who passed that amendment would have challenged a woman's election on constitutional grounds?

    Just out of curiosity, how do you know that everyone who approved the amendment had the same intent?

    Take the 14th Amendment, for example. Some probably intended it to mean full equality such that segregation would be illegal, while others probably intended it to mean that blacks would be free, and would be protected by the law, but could be treated differently (e.g. segregation, not allowed to vote, etc.).
  19. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    Kimball:
    But the changes in interpretation were wrong. As I cited from Brown, the cases decided immediately after the 14th amendment was passed disagreed with Plessy. The early cases (with which Plessy disagreed) were decided shortly after the 14th was ratified, making them a very good indicator of what the intent behind the amendment was. Brown simply restored the original intent.

    My previous point was about the proper way to change the interpretation of the Constitution. That point still stands, and your arguments haven't changed it. Plessy was not done properly, because it violated the original intent of the Constitution (as amended). If you wish to violate the original intent of the Constitution, the proper way is through amendment, not judicial reinterpretation. You, yourself, can see the damage that the judicial reinterpretation caused through Plessy.


    True. You make a good point.

    If it had been against the intent of the 19th Amendment to allow women to run for federal elective office, don't you think that at least one of the people who passed that amendment would have challenged a woman's election on constitutional grounds?

    You'd think so. But people like that may have his/her own reasons. I.e. fear of being ridiculed or attacked by the female population, or something.

    The fact that not one person did challenge shows the intent behind the 19th. Remember that the court looks at both the words and the intent behind passing them when evaluating the Constitution.

    What if the intent of one amendment contradicts the intent of another? Which intent do we use?

    Besides, politicians' intentions are not always noble. This applies to both the Founding Fathers and the various Congresses responsible for all the amendments.

    As I said, what people say and what they do (or, in this case, think) can be very different. Especially for politicians. That said, I think we should look at the intentions on a case-by-case basis, so as to avoid the generalisations and prejudices that I spoke against in the "Separation of church and state" thread.
  20. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Just out of curiosity, how do you know that everyone who approved the amendment had the same intent?

    Take the 14th Amendment, for example. Some probably intended it to mean full equality such that segregation would be illegal, while others probably intended it to mean that blacks would be free, and would be protected by the law, but could be treated differently (e.g. segregation, not allowed to vote, etc.).


    As I pointed out earlier, the cases decided by the Court shortly after the passage of the 14th Amendment are a very good indicator of the intent behind it. That was the basis for the Supreme Court reversing Plessy in Brown. It did not fit with the original intent as determined by the Court shortly after the passage of the 14th.

    You'd think so. But people like that may have his/her own reasons. I.e. fear of being ridiculed or attacked by the female population, or something.

    Your argument still overlooks the fact that the 19th amendment only clarified the ability of women to run for office. Jeannette Rankin was elected without legal opposition before the amendment was ratified and the 19th took affect.

    What if the intent of one amendment contradicts the intent of another? Which intent do we use?

    You would use the most recent one. For example, if the intent behind the First Amendment was to protect Freedom of Association, and a 28th Amendment were passed with the intent of outlawing discrimination in private organizations, the intent of the 28th would overrule the First.

    Besides, politicians' intentions are not always noble. This applies to both the Founding Fathers and the various Congresses responsible for all the amendments.

    As I said, what people say and what they do (or, in this case, think) can be very different. Especially for politicians. That said, I think we should look at the intentions on a case-by-case basis, so as to avoid the generalisations and prejudices that I spoke against in the "Separation of church and state" thread.


    Remember that in the case of the Constitution it requires at least 2/3 of the states to ratify it. Thus, it is not just the author's intent, or Congress's intent, but the intent of the states as well that needs to be considered. For example, the original draft of the 14th Amendment would have only made males citizens of the US. Because Congress removed that restriction in section 1, it shows that their intent was not to limit it to men only. The fact that they did not leave it at males only shows that they did not intend it to be limited in that way.

    (Note: In section 2 it uses men over 21 as the basis for determining corrective action if eligible voters are denied the chance to vote. That restriction is still in force as it was not changes by the 19th.)

    Allowing a "case-by-case" basis for deciding intent can be dangerous. If there is a problem with the Constitution, there is an established process to change it in a democratic manner. That, in my opinion, is the only way to properly do a "case-by-case" reinterpretation of the Constitution.

    Kimball Kinnison
  21. womberty Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2002
    star 4
    As I pointed out earlier, the cases decided by the Court shortly after the passage of the 14th Amendment are a very good indicator of the intent behind it.

    They're a good indicator of how the Court would interpret it, but are you sure the Court was basing their interpretation on the intent of the amendment's authors or the people who passed it?


    Your argument still overlooks the fact that the 19th amendment only clarified the ability of women to run for office. Jeannette Rankin was elected without legal opposition before the amendment was ratified and the 19th took affect.

    But as you said, some states were giving women the vote before the 19th Amendment, as well.

    So since the 19th Amendment doesn't guarantee women the right to run for public office, a state could still pass a law prohibiting it - right?
  22. Kuna_Tiori Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2002
    star 4
    I was wondering about that myself.

    Anyway, Kimball, you've once again made all-around good points. I have nothing more to say - for now.
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