Wednesday, June 19, 2013
To Render Freedom National And Slavery Sectional
Short version: I've seen various "on this date" things say that Congress banned slavery from the Territories on 19 June, 1862. That is in error. Congress finally passed HR374 on 17 June, and Lincoln signed it on this date. Please make a note of it.
Long version (including overt racism in Congressional debate!) below...Being a legislative history geek, I really enjoyed looking more closely at this bill. The Senate, as usual, fairly opaque, but the House provided some heated arguments, and whilst perusing the Globe I found some interesting sidebars.
- 24 March: Mr. Arnold introduced a bill (H. R. 374) to render freedom national and slavery sectional; which was read a first and second time, and referred to the Committee on the Territories.
- 9 May: House debate.
- Mr. Cox [D-OH]: I am against this whole business. I believe it is helping the enemies of the country...I want to see this Union restored as it was made by our fathers; not the Union that the gentleman from Illinois [Arnold] wants to see - a Union with a dismantled Constitution and a broken Confederation. I believe the the people of this country are sick and weary of this legislation about the negro. From one end of the country to the other complaint is coming that out time is wasted; that nothing is done for the white race, nothing, except about the negro.
- Mr. Diven [R-NY]: I am actuated by a desire to establish peace and security, and to maintain the Constitution, rather than impair it...My doctrine was the doctrine of the Republican party. The corner-stone on which the party was founded and built up, was that Congress had no right or control over this question; that the Constitution recognized slavery nowhere; that slavery existed simply and purely as a State institution...that the Constitution did not carry slavery anywhere that the local law fixed it.
- Mr. Arnold [R-IL]: There is nothing certainly in the present attitude of the institution of slavery towards the Government of the United States that should entitle it to any peculariar favor. To-day, sir, it stands in the attitude of hostility to this Goverment, and is using its utmost power to destroy this government and the institutions of our country...[T]his institution, rising in power and usurping the control of the Government, obtained absolute sway, and became a despotism in the land, striking down liberty of speech and freedom of the press, and undermining the great principles upon which this Government was based; and when the people, in the exercise of their legitimate power, hurled this institution and its instruments from place, then this institution rebelled and became a traitor, seeking to destroy the Constitution...[N]o man who loves his country and that loves the Constitution, can hold any other position towards it than one of hostility, and a desire to use all the constitutional power which we possess to weaken and destroy it. Whenever we can constitutionally give it a blow, let us do it, because when we strike down the institution or weaken its power, we weaken the rebellion, which is its legitimate offspring.
- Mr. Crisfield [U-MD]: The country is to-day reaping the bitter fruits springing, in great degree, from the violence of debate which has been indulged in here...I will not add one single spark to the flame which is now consuming the vitals of the Republic. I have risen for the purpose of pouring oil on the troubled waters, of trying to arrest a dangerous and ill-timed measure...We are in the midst of a dreadful war. That war has not arisen...from slavery, but unfortunately slavery is wrongly made the instrument by which it is carried on. Political causes produced it, but both sides have seized upon slavery as a point of attack and defense, until the whole country has become fearfully and painfully agitated.
- Mr. Kelley [R-PA]: I believe immediate passage of this law will secure future peace by excluding discussions of this subject from Congress when our flag shall again float over every inch of our territory, and the subdued and chastened, if not subjugated people of the rebellious States shall have Representatives upon this floor. What is this institution of slavery that it should claim our special regard and care? How has it blessed us, and what measure of gratitude do we owe it? Sir, it is saturating every acre of southern land with the best blood of the North. It is filling our villages and towns with widows and orphans. The names of the marshes and barren fields of the slave States are sanctified to tens of thousand of northen mothers and wives as the places of rude burial of the torn and mangled remains of their loved ones...The rebellion is the result of slavery, and follows naturally enough a defeated attempt to overthrow by enigmatical legislation and judicial chicanery the well and long settled laws, principles, and habits of the land.
- Mr. Sheffield [U-RI]: [T]he only practical effect of the bill will be to irritate people [and] to render them still further opposed to the restoration of the authority of this Government without doing any practical good. The object of which I desire the accomplishment more than any other political object, is the restoration of this Government as it came to us from our fathers, leaving the rights of the States and of individuals in the States as they existed at the time this rebellion broke out...I will, willingly and knowingly, do no one thing that will interfere with the accomplishment of this darling object of my mind.
- Mr. Arnold [again]: I deny, in the most explicit manner, that the passage of the bill, in my judgement, violate to any extent the plighted faith of the Government. While the rebels keep no faith with us, I can say we keep faith with all the world.
- 12 May: Passed, 85-50; Mr. Lovejoy moved to amend the same so as to read: "A bill to secure freedom to all persons within the Territories of the United States;" which motion was agreed to.
- 9 June: Amended version passed, 28-10; Ordered, That the Secretary request the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the amendment.
- 17 June: Senate version passed, 72-38.
- 18 June: Presented to President Lincoln.
- 19 June: Signed by President Lincoln, becoming the 112th public law enacted that session. [For some reason, the Senate wasn't informed until 23 June.]
- Point of trivia: the pen holder and nib Lincoln used sold for $74,500!
Now, the sidebars. On the day Lincoln signed HR374, the House was debating HR472, which pertained to emancipation of slaves owned by rebel officials. A Republican from NY:
Mr. Olin. My friend from Vermont [Mr. Walton] has cited various authorities to show that Congress has repeatedly refused compensation for the loss of a negro servant by the casualties of war.
A Member. Slave, not servant.
Mr. Olin. Well, slave, if that suits the gentleman better...I appeal to the gentleman from Vermont whether it is or not idle to discuss that favorite humbug question of whether there is property in the negro slave. The discussion of this question...has ceased to be either edifying or entertaining on the floor of Congress. Doubtless the pages or doorkeepers could discuss the question with unction. [Laughter.]
About one thing I suppose there is no dispute. I understand that by the laws of some of the States - laws which Congress has not yet assumed to entirely disregard - some men are entitled to command the services of certain other men. That is understood on all hands and agreed to by everybody, by every court in the United States from the justice of the peace up to Judge Taney.
Mr. Potter. Down to Judge Taney. [Laughter.]
Mr. Olin. Down or up, as you please...It is quite idle, then, to argue the law that would destroy that relation [master/slave], that would annihilate it, is not such destruction of property as it would be if that property were horses, or any other chattel.
Wow. And Olin belonged to the anti-slavery party!
Going back in the record to the day Rep Arnold introduced HR373, there was a completely unrelated measure regarding customs fees and officers:
Mr. Lovejoy. [R-IL] I object.
Mr. Wickliffe. [R-KY] There's no nigger in it. [Laughter.]
Hahaha, laugh, thought I'd die!
Anyway, it was acceptable back then to debate whether certain people were property and to casually use derogatory language toward them. Since the Anti Women Warriors love to bring up slavery in the context of abortion, lemme flip the equation: how is the discussion about black human beings any different from what Republicans have been saying when they justify their draconian laws against women and their reproductive freedom?
PS--There are lots of other poetic, passionate sections in the record, but transcribing is tedious...NToddcast RSS Feed
Monday, June 17, 2013
Justice Holmes Approves
Scalia's opinion combines his reluctant upholding of federal power with misguided paeans to states's rights in the context of federal elections. Scalia quotes James Madison as asserting that allowing excessive federal regulation of voter qualifications would "by degrees subvert the Constitution." It is very odd to approvingly quote this in 2013, given that few things have subverted the Constitution as effectively as giving states the rights to determine the qualifications of voters. For example, the glories of "local control" allowed more than a dozen states to systematically disenfranchise African American voters for nearly a century after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. This language should make clear that any optimism today's case might generate about the forthcoming ruling about the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act would be misplaced.
Still, Scalia deserves some measure of credit for recognizing that his role is not to determine whether federal law represents good policy, but to uphold it in the case of a conflicting state regulations.
It's definitely interesting that Scalia cited Madison's concerns expressed in Philadelphia, which I linked to previously. Madison continued, "A Republic may be converted into an aristocracy or oligarchy as well by limiting the number capable of being elected, as the number authorised to elect." So obviously he was worried about restricting the electorate, which is essentially what the AZ law did by placing extra burdens on voters attempting to register.
He did provide a roadmap for AZ and other states to challenge, but I think he also showed his hand and provides a roadmap for those hoping to fend off said challenges...
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Man, I Didn't Even Notice This
Monday marked the first time ever that Bush v. Gore was cited by a Supreme Court justice in an opinion since the controversial 2000 decision that settled the presidential election.
Justice Clarence Thomas cited the case in his dissent in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council, a case involving a voting law in Arizona. No other justice joined his dissent. Here's what Thomas wrote in his footnote:
The NVRA’s “accept and use” requirement applies to all federal elections, even presidential elections... This Court has recognized, however, that “the state legislature’s power to select the manner for appointing [presidential] electors is plenary; it may, if it chooses, select the electors itself.” Bush v. Gore, 531 U. S. 98, 104 (2000)
The citation was caught by Pepperdine law professor Derek T. Muller and amplified in blog posts by court watchers Josh Blackman and Rick Hasen -- the latter two observed that no Supreme Court justice has ever cited Bush v. Gore since the case.
That just further weakens his position. Consider what Article II says about electing presidents:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors...The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Notice how Congress' only explicit role is to determine when to choose Electors, and it's in the same section as that which grants states the plenary power to appoint them in any 'manner' they decide. That would include having the Legislature choose, or allowing popular voting for a slate of Electors at-large or through a district system or what have you. It would obviously also include voting qualifications, which are not specified at all in this section since it's completely left up to the states.
That's in direct contrast to the Constitution's laying out a minimal qualification for voters in Congressional elections while giving Congress the right to override how elections are conducted. What's more, Thomas would have us believe that 'manner' somehow means something less expansive in Article I after implying it's all-inclusive in Article II.
Worse than I first thought...
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Vermont's Delegation Has Some Solutions
Sanders’ bill would require authorities seeking to monitor business records to show they have reason to believe, based on specific facts, that the records are relevant to a specific terrorism investigation. The current standard, which some say requires minimal evidence, has resulted in a program that violates Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, Sanders said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has co-sponsored a bill to declassify “significant” Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions, showing how the government interprets the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance and Patriot acts in granting surveillance requests.
And Democratic Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont is backing House legislation that would do both: declassify significant FISA court opinions and set a higher standard of review for court orders authorizing surveillance.
Not a bad place to start. The veil of secrecy and the scope really make a mockery of the 4th Amendment.
As much as it's easy to blame Obama, this is really a Congressional failure. They gave the Executive branch an extremely powerful, expansive tool, and its up to the Legislature to fix things.
And a memo to both Democratic apologists and Republican obstructionists: you all ought be motivated to do something about this. The former should fear President Jeb Bush with such a system at his fingertips. The latter because your worst nightmare--a black commie Muslim non-American president with an unchecked security apparatus--has already come true.
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Would It Help Confuse The NSA If We Wasted More Time On Facebook?
With all the sturm und drang of the past couple of weeks over the NSA revelations, we haven't heard a lot about the possible solutions.Greg Sargent had a well circulated column about possible fixes and David Atkins wrote about it here as well. My personal view is that biggest threat is the gargantuan size and scope of our surveillance bureaucracy and that job one is to scale it back --- and not just the NSA, but across our whole security apparatus. The mere existence of such a system is offensive to a free society in my opinion.
Indeed, this is another version of a standing army, and one that can hide its movements with great ease. Now the larger question: how do we, the People, force the scaling back? Perhaps more cries of hypocrisy and FB memes will do the trick...
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So Thomas Understands Genetics, But Not The Constitution?
Both text and history confirm that States have the exclusive authority to set voter qualifications and to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied.
Do I really have to quote Scalia to refute you?
The Elections Clause has two functions. Upon the States it imposes the duty (“shall be prescribed”) to prescribe the time, place, and manner of electing Representatives and Senators; upon Congress it confers the power to alter those regulations or supplant them altogether. See U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U. S. 779, 804– 805 (1995); id., at 862 (THOMAS, J., dissenting). This grant of congressional power was the Framers’ insurance against the possibility that a State would refuse to provide for the election of representatives to the Federal Congress. “[E]very government ought to contain in itself the means of its own preservation,” and “an exclusive power of regulating elections for the national government, in the hands of the State legislatures, would leave the existence of the Union entirely at their mercy. They could at any moment annihilate it by neglecting to provide for the choice of persons to administer its affairs.”
Nice dig at Thomas citing his own dissent from 1995! There's at least a couple other fine digs in footnotes, too ("the dissent’s “meaningful part” standard is as indeterminate as it is atextual" and "The dissent cherry-picks some language from a sentence in Gradwell...but the full sentence reveals its irrelevance to our case" leap out).
Now I am actually sympathetic to some of the argument Thomas makes. I understand a reading that states have control over voter qualifications because of Art I, Sec 2. It's his most powerful gambit--more successful than his citation of Federalists like Rush and Steele trying to convince skeptical ratification conventions that the general government wouldn't stomp too badly on state prerogative, at any rate.
Yet I think he misses the point of the Constitution's bifurcation of the election process. The Convention could have easily placed the qualification discussion in the Elections Clause, but recall a couple things about Article I.
First of all, the two chambers were made distinct in several ways, one of which is their manner of choosing. Members of House were popularly elected whilst Senators were originally creatures of the state legislature. So those electoral qualifications were placed in each chamber's individual descriptive section, rather than in a clause that details the electoral process itself. And that clause reiterates that states have demesne over elections in general, unless the Congress made up of their elected representatives (as opposed to the Convention which was arguably less accountable) decides to pre-empt.
Further, if you look at the debates about qualifications (e.g., here and here), it seems clear that the overriding concern was placing too many restrictions on suffrage in the Constitution, particularly anything that might be more burdensome than what some more liberal state regulations entailed. So they didn't include any property or wealth requirements, for example, and chose an expansive approach, tying the national government to the most popular element of each state.
I'd also submit that construction of the Constitution actually limits state regulation. Obviously we have amendments that prevent them from erecting barriers based on race or gender, as well as ability to pay taxes, not to mention the fact that we now have an explicit upper bound on voting age. Nationally, we put minimum democratic requirements upon the states--they can make their elections more liberal and expansive if they want (e.g., VT's allowing 17yos to vote in primaries, OR's vote by mail), but they cannot become more restrictive.
Therefore it seems to me, and 7 Justices, if the national government decides to regulate registration, which is part of the "manner of elections", states really can't add other qualifications into the process. There are still mechanisms that can mitigate fraud and non-citizens' voting, but when dealing with elections we (generally should) err on the side of not placing undue burdens on people. AZ was effectively making it harder for legimate voters from participating in Federal elections, and that is very much a Federal concern, as Scalia noted right from the start.
Update: SCOTUS Blog:
If a reader of the Scalia opinion stopped at the top of page 13, the impression would be very clear that Congress had won hands down in the field of regulating federal elections. But from that point on, there is abundant encouragement for what is essentially a states’ rights argument: that is, that the states have very wide authority to define who gets to vote, in both state and federal elections.
Yes, I found that quite interesting. Scalia was sort of saying, "yeah states can do stuff, but..." Also interesting that Kennedy opted out of that part, but the liberal wing stayed with Tony to the end.NToddcast RSS Feed
No, I'm Pretty Sure President Gore Would Be The Same
In a vision of how America might have been different if the Supreme Court had not intervened in the 2000 presidential election, former Vice President Al Gore labeled controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs unconstitutional on Friday. According to Gore, who won the popular vote for president in 2000 but lost the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision, the extent of the NSA’s surveillance “in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear.” Much of the NSA’s surveillance programs began under President George W. Bush, although they now require more court oversight than they originally did.
Gore added, in a likely reference to classified opinions handed down by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, that “[i]t is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is.”
But I do disagree with the ThinkProgress author. It's a comforting fiction to think that things would've been better had SCOTUS not stopped the Florida recount, but I'm fairly certain that President Gore is a human being whose perspective would change once in office.
Granted, we wouldn't have the Bush programs put in place in the wake of a 9/11 that might not have happened, but the military/security complex is powerful and presidents all throughout America's history have tended toward wielding whatever authority they can (and yes, that includes Washington). And if Gore were somehow installed in the White House today with these surveillance systems in place, I'm also pretty sure he'd not dismantle them.
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Facts Are Stubborn Things
Perhaps because I've been seeing a lot of disrespect for facts of late, and we had an interesting discussion on FB about the nature of our Revolution, I felt compelled to put on John Adams last night during Daddy Time. It kicks off with the Boston Massacre:
Knowing that like all such shows, this one conflates and compresses events, elides and invents details, and otherwise is fanciful in some areas for the sake of economy and drama, I was curious about the veracity of the scene. So I went to John Adams' diary:
Monday. February 26, or thereabouts. Rode from Weymouth;—stopped at my house, Veasey’s blacksmith shop, my brother’s, my mother’s, and Robinson’s.
These five stops took up the day. When I came into town, I saw a vast collection of people near Liberty Tree; inquired, and found the funeral of the child lately killed by Richardson was to be attended. Went into Mr. Rowe’s and warmed me, and then went out with him to the funeral. A vast number of boys walked before the coffin; a vast number of women and men after it, and a number of carriages. My eyes never beheld such a funeral; the procession extended further than can be well imagined.
This shows there are many more lives to spend, if wanted, in the service of their country.
It shows, too, that the faction is not yet expiring; that the ardor of the people is not to be quelled by the slaughter of one child and the wounding of another.
At club, this evening, Mr. Scott and Mr. Cushing gave us a most alarming account of Otis. He has been, this afternoon, raving mad; raving against father, wife, brother, sister, friend, &c.
It is a little remarkable that no notice is taken in the Diary of the case of Captain Preston and the soldiers, for several years after the time at which it occurred. Here recourse must be had to the Autobiography, which gives the following narrative.
[The year 1770 was memorable enough in these little annals of my pilgrimage. The evening of the fifth of March I spent at Mr. Henderson Inches’s house, at the south end of Boston, in company with a club with whom I had been associated for several years. About nine o’clock we were alarmed with the ringing of bells, and, supposing it to be the signal of fire, we snatched our hats and cloaks, broke up the club, and went out to assist in quenching the fire, or aiding our friends who might be in danger. In the street we were informed that the British soldiers had fired on the inhabitants, killed some and wounded others, near the town-house.
A crowd of people was flowing down the street to the scene of action. When we arrived, we saw nothing but some field-pieces placed before the south door of the town-house, and some engineers and grenadiers drawn up to protect them. Mrs. Adams was then in circumstances to make me apprehensive of the effect of the surprise upon her, who was alone, excepting her maids and a boy, in the house. Having therefore surveyed round the town-house, and seeing all quiet, I walked down Boylston Alley into Brattle Square, where a company or two of regular soldiers were drawn up in front of Dr. Cooper’s old church, with their muskets all shouldered, and their bayonets all fixed. I had no other way to proceed but along the whole front in a very narrow space which they had left for foot passengers. Pursuing my way, without taking the least notice of them, or they of me, any more than if they had been marble statues, I went directly home to Cole Lane.
My wife having heard that the town was still and likely to continue so, had recovered from her first apprehensions, and we had nothing but our reflections to interrupt our repose. These reflections were to me disquieting enough. Endeavors had been systematically pursued for many months, by certain busy characters, to excite quarrels, rencounters, and combats, single or compound, in the night, between the inhabitants of the lower class and the soldiers, and at all risks to enkindle an immortal hatred between them. I suspected that this was the explosion which had been intentionally wrought up by designing men, who knew what they were aiming at better than the instruments employed.
If these poor tools should be prosecuted for any of their illegal conduct, they must be punished. If the soldiers in self-defence should kill any of them, they must be tried, and, if truth was respected and the law prevailed, must be acquitted. To depend upon the perversion of law, and the corruption or partiality of juries, would insensibly disgrace the jurisprudence of the country and corrupt the morals of the people. It would be better for the whole people to rise in their majesty, and insist on the removal of the army, and take upon themselves the consequences, than to excite such passions between the people and the soldiers as would expose both to continual prosecution, civil or criminal, and keep the town boiling in a continual fermentation. The real and full intentions of the British government and nation were not yet developed; and we knew not whether the town would be supported by the country; whether the Province would be supported by even our neighboring States of New England; nor whether New England would be supported by the continent. These were my meditations in the night.
Thus it appears he did not witness any of the carnage firsthand as depicted, and wasn't at his own home at the time either, so the film makers played a bit fast and loose with events. Understandable, though, since they needed to frame the horror of massacre while keeping the focus on their main character and having a very important supporting player in Abigail to establish her role in the narrative.
They also took liberties with Adams' first meeting with Mr Forrest, an advocate for Captain Preston. However, as with other scenes I think the show did a decent job of retaining spirit and flavor of events whilst also answering the challenge of illustrating a tulmultuous and contentious environment wherein there were still many people loyal to the Crown.
In 1773, Adams wrote:
5. Friday. Heard an oration, at Mr. Hunt’s meeting-house, by Dr. Benjamin Church, in commemoration of the massacre in King Street three years ago. That large church was filled and crowded in every pew, seat, alley, and gallery, by an audience of several thousands of people, of all ages and characters, and of both sexes.
I have reason to remember that fatal night. The part I took in defence of Captain Preston and the soldiers procured me anxiety and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the quakers or witches anciently. As the evidence was, the verdict of the jury was exactly right.
This, however, is no reason why the town should not call the action of that night a massacre; nor is it any argument in favor of the Governor or Minister who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest of proofs of the danger of standing armies.
I wish more people would read original writings like this. Here is a great patriot, a man who would become the first Vice President and second President, who served his country (both native and the one he helped forge) with distinction, taking a fairly nuanced view of a major event. He didn't appreciate the presence of British troops any more than other New Englanders, felt they deserved a fair trial and thought the verdict correct, and agreed that what the soldiers did was a 'massacre'. All while making an even larger point about standing armies that was significant all through the Founding Era.
And some of the bloggers in his time would call him a traitor to the cause...
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Sunday, June 16, 2013
Fortunately, We Have Lots Of Oversight
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed this week that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."
If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.
Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls.
Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.
But really, the 4th Amendment is as quaint as the 3rd, so what's the worry?
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Saturday, June 15, 2013
A Wall Of Separation
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that a Christian man can sue the state of Oklahoma over the state’s license plate depicting a piece of artwork by a famous Native American.
The 2-1 decision issued on Tuesday found that the religious freedom of Keith Cressman, a Christian pastor from the Oklahoma City area, could potentially be violated by the state’s licence plates that depict the “Sacred Rain Arrow” sculpture by the long-deceased Oklahoma artist Allan Houser. Cressman argued that the plates “might imply his approval of contrary beliefs, such as that God and nature are one, that other deities exist, or that ‘animals, plants, rocks, and other natural phenomena” have souls or spirits.”
[A]s Greg Lipper, senior litigation counsel at the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, pointed out, the law in this regard is actually quite clear. The 1977 Supreme Court decision, Wooley vs. Maynard, ruled that New Hampshire could not require its residents to display the slogan “Live free or die” on its license plates if they found it “repugnant to their moral, religious, and political beliefs.”
“The separation of church and state benefits people who are religious as much as it benefits people who have no religion,” Lipper told Raw Story. Though Lipper said he wasn’t familiar enough with Houser’s artwork to know if it had religious meaning, “in this particular instance, it’s enough to say that this plaintiff believes that it does and the state can’t force people to display religious messages on things like license plates.”
Ironically, Lipper pointed out, it’s often Christians that are accused of forcing their beliefs into state services, much like public meetings in North Carolina where officials conducted Christian prayers.
I welcome more such challenges by Christians. Maybe then they'll understand what the First Amendment really means. Right, Governor Perry?