Saturday, July 20, 2024

Alexander: Supreme Court strikes blows for liberty

by BIZ Magazine

Included in the historic and dizzying litany of U.S. Supreme Court decisions the last ten days are rulings on 2nd Amendment rights and free exercise of religion.

These decisions, when analyzed in conjunction with landmark pro-democracy decisions defending the rights ‘of the people’ through their elected representatives to choose to protect pre-born human life and requiring that the U.S. Congress determine major environmental policy—not unelected bureaucrats unaccountable to the people—the Supreme Court has returned “We the People” to a constitutional republic and a ‘government by consent of the governed.’ 

Let’s begin with the 2nd Amendment case.

The Supreme Court held that New York’s handgun licensing regime was unconstitutional.  Why?  Because NY was forcing its citizens who wished to apply for and receive a permit to carry a handgun to prove that they had “proper cause” to carry the handgun and that the applicant had demonstrated a “special need for self-defense.”  

The Supreme Court flatly said “no.”  What was the Court’s reasoning?

The Court refused to leave in the hands of NY state bureaucrats the discretion to determine to grant or disallow a citizen’s 2nd Amendment right ‘to keep and bear arms’ based on what the bureaucrat deems to qualify as a “special need” for self-defense.  

The Court held that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”  The Court underscored this point adding that “individual self-defense is the central component of the Second Amendment right.”

Why is this important? At a time when the Lunatic Left are defunding and disrespecting the police, and police coverage and response times are negatively impacted; when bail to keep dangerous criminals off the streets is being reduced and ended in many jurisdictions; and prisons are being emptied of lethal threats to society; this Supreme Court decision reaffirms the principle that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

The cry for “gun control” after these mass shootings (and these shootings are primarily a heart problem not a gun problem) is an easy solution for politicians with a desire to “do something,” but it is deeply misplaced.  What we need is criminal control.

Law-abiding gun owners everywhere already obey our gun laws but criminals—by their nature—are never going to comply.  The result is that the good guys are disarmed while the bad guys are, free and unopposed, able to inflict their violence and death on the innocent.  This is societal insanity.

The second important Supreme Court decision I address today is one involving free exercise of religion and the “praying football coach.”

What are the facts? Coach Joseph Kennedy was fired from his job as a high school football coach in the Bremerton School District after he knelt at midfield after games to offer a quiet, personal prayer of thanks.  The high school is a public high school—making him a government employee—in Washington state. 

The Bremerton School District argued that as an employee at work Coach Kennedy’s prayer was “state speech” and thereby violated the Constitution’s promise of no government “establishment of religion.”   However, the Supreme Court held that in firing Coach Kennedy it had unconstitutionally punished him “for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance” after each game.  

The Court held that Coach Kennedy’s ritual after football games is private conduct.   The Court noted that Coach Kennedy never attempted to pressure or coerce his players or spectators to join him.  He had also never offered his prayers while acting within the scope of his duties as a coach or conditioned playing time based upon participation in his prayer.  He merely engaged, for approximately 3o seconds after each game, in his own brief and personal religious observance.

The Court reasoned that finding this private conduct unconstitutional would be to discriminate against religion.  That’s right, of course, because as any fair reading of American history makes clear, what the Framers of our Constitution were concerned about was the establishment of a state religion of the kind they fled when the Pilgrims came to America in the first place.  That is why the Framers would not recognize the hostility to religion that is so common in America today.

For citizen patriots loyal to our Constitution, these last 10 days have marked a thrilling return to constitutional principles, to the rubric that the responsibility of a Supreme Court Justice is to interpret the law, not make it.

Royal Alexander is a Shreveport attorney

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