A limit of power

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One might note, even with a cursory reading of the U.S. Constitution, that this document is essentially a limit on power.

The First Amendment, for example, restricts the power of Congress and Congress alone. That amendment begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

In doing this, they were rejecting the wish of the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, that Congress be given the power to disallow state legislation.

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Congress, thus, could not and did not disallow state legislation then in existence, which required citizens of some states to pay taxes for the state-approved church.

Congress continued to recognize that the First Amendment’s check on religious liberty applied only to Congress, until the Supreme Court ruled in the 1960s that school prayer violated the Constitution.

That decision opened a can of worms that has been squirming ever since. One can argue that their decision flies in the face of the First Amendment, but, unless you are on the highest court, your opinion doesn’t matter.

Only the Supreme Court is supreme, legally speaking.

Note: The closing of my previous article requires some clarification. I should have stated “All bills passed by Congress, but vetoed by the president, had to have the votes of ‘two-thirds of the House and Senate’ to become law.”