What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 27, 2011

Doesn't ANYONE Read The Constitution These Days?

From John Micek's essential, indespensible Capital Ideas, yesterday:
A Cadre Of Mostly Republican Lawmakers ... ... called this morning for House approval of a pair of bills that critics say will significantly curtail access to abortion services across the state.

The bills, which await House approval, would hold abortion clinics to the same licensing and health standards as outpatient surgical centers and forbid taxpayer-funded abortion coverage through state-run insurance exCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.changes now scheduled to open in 2014.
For whatever it's worth, take a look at who's opposing the bills:
Andy Hoover, legislative director for the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said supporters of the clinic bill will have to "explain" how the legislation advances the cause of women's health when both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Ob/Gyn department at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have come out against the legislation.
Beyond the misogyny of this legislation designed to "help" women by restricting their rights, let's scroll way down to the bottom of the piece.  It's a gobsmack moment:
Rep. Brian (sic) Barbin, D-Cambria, the only Democrat to speak publicly on behalf of proposals that backers claimed have broad bipartisan support, framed his argument for the bills in personal and religious terms:

"You're responsible to encourage the decision that God would have you make," he said.
I can't imagine Micek getting the quote wrong or omitting the context necessary to frame it into something, you know, reasonable.  But can someone in Harrisburg please get this Barbin a copy of the Bill of Rights?  This part especially:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
If Rep Barbin needs some coaching as to what that all means, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote in Everson v. Board of Education that:
The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.
If Rep Barbin is looking for something closer, he can take a peek (again, if someone can perhaps send him a copy?) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Section 3 on Religious Freedom:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship. [emphasis added.]
Setting aside everything else that's odious about this legislation, justifying it by saying (as I understanding Barbin) that the law should encourage women to make the decision that God would want them to make runs counter to the letter and the spirit of the Constitutions of both the United States and of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.



Heir to the Throne said...

How to read the Constitution like a liberal.
"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Only gives states the right to form militias/National Guards, not for individuals to bear arms.

Anonymous said...

How to read the Constitution like a conservative.

There is only 1 Amendment, although it is titled "The Second Amendment." They remember the Tenth, when it suits their purpose.

All of the others are just to protect the guilty, and those with something to hide.

Clyde Wynant said...

Gun nuts aside, the real issue is just how often The Constitution is being brought into political discourse these days, usually without the subtext (read: interpretation) that Dayvoe supplied. The Right loves to hop on board the Constitutional train, because is seems all righteous 'an nat. It's the exact same reason they rely on Christ; because they figure (and they are mostly correct) "Who can bash old JC?"

As a practicing atheist, I just smile and shake my head, but I know this is serious business....