Paralegal Student Article about 1st Amendment

Impressed with this letter to the editor by a paralegal student about a new Indiana license plate (published in The Journal Gazette):

"The pending lawsuit regarding the ‘In God We Trust’ license plates has a few attention-catching flaws. As a paralegal student with a special interest in constitutional law, I found the suit to be a serious mistake.

"The first reason comes from the popular misunderstanding of the First Amendment. Instead of reading, ‘there shall be a wall of separation between church and state,’ or ‘no law that even so much as allows religious liberties can be made,’ the amendment reads: ‘Congress 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.’

"The claim brought to court is based on the assumption that the state of Indiana (or any other government agency) cannot be religion-friendly in any way. This, however, is false. If you were to go back to the discussion surrounding the formation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, you would find that many of the Founding Fathers were Christians and that all of them, Christian or not, were not concerned with the state or federal governments being religion-friendly, but rather that the governments would enforce a specific denomination (i.e. Baptist, Anglican, Catholic, etc.)."

Read the complete letter & tell me if you’re also impressed with Abigail Snyder’s reasoning.

One Reply to “Paralegal Student Article about 1st Amendment”

  1. I guess I was not as impressed with the comments. The first argument is blatent straw man I have ever seen. There is no serious “popular misunderstanding” regarding seperation of church and state doctrine most ferviously argued in the Federalist Papers, and the real First Amendment regarding government endorsement of religion. The writer that goes on to say that the founding fathers “were not concerned with the state or federal governments being religion-friendly, but rather that the governments would enforce a specific denomination (i.e. Baptist, Anglican, Catholic, etc.) This is strange considering
    the first amendment state that Congress shall make no law respecting “an establishment of religion”. If the writer were correct, the sentence would read “shall make no law respecting an establishment of a particular religion” or even more concisely, “shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion”. I can only hope that the paralegal school in Fort Wayne teach the importance of the most subtle nuances in the constitution. Or, perhaps the writer is correct and it is just a typo.

    The writer’s second point states that “The lawsuit’s claim also misses the fundamental difference between the “In God We Trust” plates and special recognition plates.” Actually, the lawsuit is based almost exclusively on this difference. In Indiana, we allow non-profit groups to apply for a special recognition plate, and drivers can pick that group’s plate, pay some extra money and the extra money goes to that group. The In God We Trust plate does not fall under this catagory but instead creates a catagory of its own. A catagory that expresses a point of view, but is backed exclusively by the state. By any definition, such an endorsement of a point of view, is in essence an endorsement of religion. Nobody is claiming that it is an endorsement of a particular religion, but rather an endorsement of religion in general.

    http://nuvo.net/articles/statesponsored_christian_doctrine/

    Further, as to the writer’s last point, I am confused. She seems to ignore the that the plates cost more (in essence causing certain people who do not agree with the point of view esposed on the plates). Her statement that she would gladly pay the difference in cost is irrelevant because she (nor anyone else) is paying the difference, the tax payer is. The simple fact is that the plate is government endorsement of religion. The writer may not be offended by that, but I would ask her to vote for the next Indiana subsidized plate to be In Budda We Trust and see if she still has the same point of view.

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