Monday, August 25, 2003

Church and State: Regarding Justice Moore, I have to admit that I'm on thin ice, too -- because I'm ignorant of the law here. I'm well aware of the First Amendment and its modern readings, but I don't have a grasp of the impact on the states. Does the amendment only bind the federal government? To wit, Congress shall make no law . . . but Alabama is on its own. We know that the free speech part of the amendment has proved itself over state laws, but what is the precedent for the church/state business? Moreover, in what way, exactly, has Moore violated the amendment? As an official of the judiciary, as he notes, he is not covered by "Congress shall make no law . . ." Does the display of the commandments become a de facto making of law when it takes place in a government building? I don't think so. Nor do I think that a statue to Solon makes a law respecting Greekness; nor does a reference to Solomon make a law respecting Jewishness. Like it or not, the Torah is on the highlight reel of legal history. Doesn't that lend a certain relevance to a judicial setting that places a display outside the purely religious?

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