WITH FOLKS WHO ARE asserting in the Phil Robertson contretemps that, because the confrontation is not between Congress and an individual citizen that this is not a First Amendment matter. And, OK, stated that way, it’s not. However…
It is a matter of freedom of speech, as well as the free exercise of religion, and therefor at the very least touches on the spirit of the First Amendment.
That it is not speaks perhaps to the utter corruption of government in America, inasmuch as Congress is supposed to be the sole legislative authority in such matters — no other having say in them — all of the other bodies and individuals seeking influence over the speech or religious practices of other individual American citizens are infringing on Congress’s privilege and authority. And, as such, the First Amendment being the final authority in the matter, this is a First Amendment case. If Congress is forbidden to act, then EVERYBODY is forbidden to act.
But, Alger, you say, The Constitution is a bill of limits on the Federal Government.
And: Oh, really? I say in response. Is it not rather an affirmative statement of limits on the government as defined by the rights of the individual? Does it matter, therefor, WHO, exactly, is infringing on a right? Is it not sufficient to define that individuals have the right to render it unlawful for ANY actor — public or private — to infringe. If I have a right to free speech, how can you have any authority to squelch what I say? If I have a right to go armed, how can you have any authority to assert that I may not carry a weapon?
Is it a right? Or is it a limited license? Does not one affirm the basic concept of America and the other put the lie to the whole experiment?
If Phil Robertson, a free citizen of the United States, has the right of free speech, and makes a statement on his own time, in a venue not controlled by his employer, not representing his employer’s position, and his employer punishes him for exercising that right, how can it NOT touch on the First Amendment?
This goes wider than the First Amendment — or even the Second. For example, where in the Fourth Amendment are the limits on searches and seizures applied only to government agents? They’re not, of course. The prohibition is absolute and universal. It means, for example, that your bank has a fiduciary responsibility not to reveal your bank details without a proper warrant. Indeed, to not reveal even the existence of your accounts. The over-reach by the Internal Revenue Service in demanding this information is only one bit of evidence in the avalanche that proves — I think dispositively — that the “service” is corrupt and needs to be disbanded.
I propose that you look at — or re-examine, if you haven’t recently — the entirety of the Constitution in this light: the document is meant to make it clear that the supreme law of the land stands in defense of the rights of the individual against ALL comers.