THE FIRST AMENDMENT is a limit on the power of Congress – and only Congress. That’s what the phrase, “Congress shall make no law…” Means. At the Federal level, sole legislative authority is given to Congress. And, under the doctrine of supremacy, (the Constitution says right on the box, Supreme Law of the Land, so that fits), on matters which the Constitution touches (and ONLY those matters), Congress is the supreme nation legislature. So what a state legislature legislates touching religion, assembly, association, the press and speech, and to petition the government is automatically null and void.
Now, it has not always been so. In fact some states early on had established religions, that being a right reserved to the states and the people, albeit forbidden the federal government.
The First Amendment forbids Congress (and thus any other legislature) to make any law respecting freedom of association. This means, directly, that the so-called “public accommodation” provisions of 1960s-vintage “civil rights” legislation, not having repealed those provisions of the Bill of Rights, are flatly unconstitutional. Any claims on the basis of public accommodation and the forbidding of discrimination in the provision of those goods and services on sundry bases are therefor — according to Supreme Court opinions and rulings — null and void.
Now, a lot of people are het up in a lot of who-struck-John on the subject of the shooting range owner who, exercising her First Amendment right of Free Association, (Not that the First Amendment grants the right — that’s an ontological impossibility — but that it recognizes and aims to secure the extant right as a proper function of government.), has chosen to refuse service to Moslems. Leaving aside the impossibility of enforcing such a rule, one cannot reasonably deny that she has that right. And, as legislating in the matter is forbidden to Congress, the matter is — by law — exclusively private.
Many of the more-reasoned arguments among the het up folk go like: “Be careful what powers you give the government; you may not like what use the government gets up to with its powers down the road.” And I do not argue the fundamental fact. It is true. Government should never be given power the people don’t desperately need it to have.
In this case, that boat sailed — about fifty years ago, when statists in power in Washington decided that the people would rather give up the freedom of association than face long, hot summers of violent protests and rioting on into the foreseeable future. And the statists in power knuckled under to extortionate thugs. Some of whom still ply their trade today — ::coughJesseJacksonAlSharptonLouisFarrakhan::cough::
[Insert Ben Franklin’s quote on the subject and conclude with the “And they shall have neither.”]
I won’t presume to speak for others and argue, “Nobody’s arguing for government action to deny freedom of religion to Moslems.” That’s pointless, and not credible. I haven’t seen any serious arguments to that effect, but neither can I guarantee nobody’s made them. What I AM saying is that — for myself — I am arguing that in broad general, Americans need to stop turning to Washington for the solution to every problem and work things out for ourselves. If Moslems present a clear and present danger to America and Americans, We the People need to recognize that fact and behave accordingly, whether or not our government acknowledges our wishes.
As I have said in response to news reports on the shooting range owner’s actions, I believe her actions should be universal. Not that our government — or any government — should restrict religious freedom, but that We the People should, in exercising our right to freely association with whom we see fit, should refuse to associate with Moslems.
I do not know how this will work. But my statement of principle goes thus; I recognize that you, as a Moslem, have found in Islam some semblance of inner peace and order, and have accepted the need for you to submit to God. However, I do not believe in the divine origin of the creed of Islam, and find its tenets abhorrent. The history of the faith tells me that it is not a religion as I see it (we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one), but a toxic political ideology which has, in the person of its strongest adherents, declared war on my nation, people, family, and self. This is an intolerable situation and I will not tolerate it. So long as you practice Islam, I shall not associated with you, in community, worship, or business. Should you wish my association, you must abjure Islam and all who practice it. You cannot gull me with protestations of moderation, there can be no such thing. By the tenets of your own faith, if you depart one iota from its tenets, you are apostate and marked for death. I can only trust you if you leave the faith. Granted that also marks you as apostate, so I cannot see a happy solution for you.
You can say, “Well, then, why should I wish to associate with you?” I do not have an answer. I only know I don’t wish to associate with YOU.