Wednesday, August 27, 2003


Ilana Mercer, in a WorldNetDaily column entitled "Judge Moore and the Godless 14th Amendment," says we should repeal the Fourteenth so your state can establish a religion (and if you don't like the religion it establishes, tough noogies -- you should pack up and move):

If the Bill of Rights was intended to place strict limits on federal power and protect the individual from government, the 14th, in effect, defeated that purpose. What it did was to put the power to enforce the Bill of Rights in federal hands, where it was never intended to be.

Naturally, states can just as well violate individual rights. But, as Chodorov highlighted, there is no monopoly power behind a state's action. If a state wants to outlaw alcohol, then one can move to a state that doesn't. (That's one way for state legislators to ensure that their states will be as densely populated as the moon.) If a state wants to establish a religion, and its own constitution doesn't prohibit this, one can move to a state with a different constitution. Competition in government puts the brakes on folly and abuse and preserves freedom.

The 14th Amendment violated this balance, or as Felix Morley observed in "Freedom and Federalism," it nullified "the original purpose of the Bill of Rights, by vesting its enforcement in the national rather than in the state governments." This just about renders asunder the Ninth and 10th amendments – what powers do the states retain if the federal government has gobbled them all up?

When the federal government became the arbiter of individual rights – freedom of religion included – the doctrine of limitation of powers was badly damaged, if not destroyed. In the real world, as opposed to the arid arena of pure theory, government – especially centralized government – is the natural enemy of natural rights. Putting the central government in exclusive charge of protecting natural rights is the height of folly.

Judge Moore rightly proclaims his innocence in the Wall Street Journal. "The First Amendment says that 'Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' It does not take a constitutional scholar to recognize that I am not Congress, and no law has been passed," he protests.

However, when the Justice proclaims, "The Ninth Amendment secured our right as a people. The 10th guaranteed our right as a sovereign state," he is neglecting that along came the 14th and did away with all that.

Justice Roy Moore has more on his hands than he bargained for, although his passions are well suited to begin the necessary groundswell that'll see the repeal of the 14th Amendment.

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