Friday, September 24, 2004

A Good First Step

In a largely unnoticed story yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Pledge Protection Act," which would remove from the federal courts the authority to rule on the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Though I think the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling barring the Pledge a couple of years ago was asinine, I also can't get too excited about whatever amorphous "deity" is supposedly being promoted in that Pledge. The fact that so many people support it tells me that it's probably not saying much about the God of Christianity.

But in a way the Pledge issue itself is secondary. This is hugely significant legislation, because for the first time in memory, Congress has finally begun to exercise its constitutional duty to reign in the runaway federal judiciary.

Under Article III, section 2 of the Constitution, Congress has the authority to determine the appelate jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. But they have been woefully lax in acting to protecting their constitutional role of lawmaking, and have instead ceded that power largely to the courts for the last 40 years. Finally, they've taken a step towards reversing that trend--a small step (and one that still would have to be approved by the Senate), but a step nonetheless.

This idiotic commentary by a Princeton Seminary scholar (that should be your first warning alarm) shows that they're on the right track:
This is a remarkable violation of the separation of powers and the Establishment Clause. If the Act were to become law -- and if it were, itself, to be upheld as constitutional -- only state courts would be able to hear constitutional challenges to the pledge.
That's the second time in 24 hours where "separation of powers" has been ironically invoked in support of an unchecked judicial oligarcy.

But aside from that, let's put her "logic" to the test in light of the facts:

1). The federal courts rule on federal laws.

2). The First Amendment explicitly states that Congress can make no federal laws regarding the free excercise of religion.


3). Marci Hamilton hysterically informs us that this act will mean that only state courts will be able to rule on issues of free exercise of religion.

And the problem is?

No comments: