Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kiss The First Amendment Goodbye

Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, has snuck one in the back door, and most of Congress was so asleep at the switch, they didn't notice that they were undermining their constitutional freedom from the imposition of religion.

Personally, I think this Steve King has been superceded by his name-twin in the writing of horror stories.



(H/T The Rev at Galloping Beaver)

UPDATE: Karen, in comments, says:

"A proposal may be introduced in Congress as a bill, a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution, or a simple resolution. Most legislative proposals are introduced as bills, but some are introduced as joint resolutions. There is little practical difference between the two, except that joint resolutions may include preambles but bills may not. Joint resolutions are the normal method used to propose a constitutional amendment or to declare war. On the other hand, concurrent resolutions (passed by both houses) and simple resolutions (passed by only one house) do not have the force of law. Instead, they serve to express the opinion of Congress, or to regulate procedure."

Reference here.

Now, the upshot of this is that it looks like Congress didn't shoot down the First Amendment completely. Yet. What it looks like now, though, is that someone is taking the idea for a walk and looking to see if enough people will join them so they can have a parade. And while this is a little less panic-inducing for those of us who firmly believe that religion and government would combine in marriage to make hideous children, the thought that some people are even entertaining the idea of a flirtation between them is alarming. After all, if this is the opinion of such a large majority of members of Congress, would it take all that much for them to take the next step and pass it as a joint resolution?

14 Comments:

Blogger dez said...

I checked and found out that MY Congressman voted "aye" on that resolution.

Rick Larsen is getting SUCH an email from me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 7:29:00 PM  
Blogger Kyle R. Cupp said...

Not sure what his bill accomplishes, aside from appealing to a certain brand of voter.

Friday, December 14, 2007 5:34:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Not that I like Christianity (I don't) or any other religion, for that matter, this bill was in response to earlier bills passed that recognized Ramadan and Diwali. It's not as out of the blue as it might seem. It's still stupid, and so were the prior resolutions to which this was a response.

Friday, December 14, 2007 8:57:00 AM  
Blogger stageleft said...

Would it have become unimportant if the resolution hadn't passed?

Friday, December 14, 2007 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

Karen rather hit it already, but I'd like to add that at least 9 Dems (you remember Dems, the "celebrate diversity" folks?) voted for the Ramaden resolution and against the Christmas one. This is despite both being quite similarly.

Both praised the given religion they were about as "one of the great religions of the world" and both decried the violence that targets religion around the world.

The one rejected "hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims." and the other "bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide."

Diana DeGette of Colorado, Gary Ackerman and Yvette Clarke of N.Y., Alcee Hastings of Florida., Barbara Lee, Fortney Stark and Lynn Woolsey of California, Jim McDermott of Washington, and Robert Scott of Virginia... all happy card-carrying lefties, were all on the list who voted for the Ramadan resolution and against the Christmas one.

I'm not a big fan of the zealots on the religious right but I'm hard-pressed to see how kissing up to one religion (a minority one here in the States) and rejecting the majority religion can possibly be deemed celebrating diversity or not be seen as government approval of the minority one.

Nor how passing this latter one is kissing the 1st amendment goodbye but passing the former one isn't.

Friday, December 14, 2007 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

Damn! That should be "This is despite both being quite similarly worded."

(Hobbit slaps his typist.)

Friday, December 14, 2007 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger JeanC said...

SIGH!!!!!!

I SUPPOSE this IS more important then trying to solve hunger in America, solving the lack of decent health care for the uninsured and finding ways to help people get out of poverty :P

Friday, December 14, 2007 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Well, of course it is, Jean. Just as long as Congress can be seen to be doing SOMETHING - or pretty much anything - then the minions will be happy, or so the theory goes. In the American sub-consciousness somehow, being poor is somehow proof that God is punishing the person for some undefined sin. Actually, being poor IS a sin. It means the person isn't working hard enough. You know, workliness is next to godliness.

SL, if it hadn't passed, it would have become more important, given the fact that the prior two lauding non-Christian religions did pass. It would have been proof that Christians are being persecuted. They are, don't you know. By their own tiny little minds.

Friday, December 14, 2007 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Okay, the verbatim text of the first amendment is: "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."

NO LAW are the key words here. It absolutely forbids Congress from legislating on religion, and it specifically names the establishment of any religion and the prohibition of the free exercise of any religion!

So...what did Congress just do? It acknowledged that some religions deserve recognition (and yes, I knew about the two that had been done previously...and I'm glad to see that everyone is on their toes on this). SCOTUS and the ACLU variably interpret and defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights based on its wording, so what do you think they're going to do with these precedents? Now that three religions have legally been recognised as "being important," (and I'm not saying they're not important, because they certainly are to those folks whose religions they are), courts will be bound to give weight to their legal status in any disputes in which they are involved.

Friday, December 14, 2007 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

A proposal may be introduced in Congress as a bill, a joint resolution, a concurrent resolution, or a simple resolution. Most legislative proposals are introduced as bills, but some are introduced as joint resolutions. There is little practical difference between the two, except that joint resolutions may include preambles but bills may not. Joint resolutions are the normal method used to propose a constitutional amendment or to declare war. On the other hand, concurrent resolutions (passed by both houses) and simple resolutions (passed by only one house) do not have the force of law. Instead, they serve to express the opinion of Congress, or to regulate procedure.
(Highlight is mine).

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress#Bills_and_resolutions

So, while we may all find the whole thing idiotic, the resolution does not have the force of law. It's simply pandering, which seems appropriate for Congress - bunch of pimps.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Hmmm, part of the URL got cut. Let me try it in HTML.

Wikipedia - Congress, Bills and Resolutions

Ah, yes, all better.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Howlin' Hobbit said...

As an amusing little coda to all this froufrou, it appears that Rep. King didn't even vote on his own resolution.

I'd give you the link about it but apparently the blog's server where I found out about it this morning has gone down in the meantime.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Karen: That is interesting. Congress can do a lot of speechifying and rallying and voting on hot-button issues and still not actually do anything that has any real meaning?

How very Canadian of them!

I should probably post your reply directly to the thread...

Hobbit: I had heard that elsewhere, which left me scratching my head a bit. If King didn't vote on his own resolution, why did he bring it forward in the first place?

Saturday, December 15, 2007 1:22:00 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Because he's an idiot?

I think if it came to a bill establishing a state religion, all hell would break loose. They've been trying to establish English as the official language for years, and that won't pass either. Thank god.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 1:51:00 PM  

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