Skip to comments.An Exegetical Look at the Establishment Clause
Posted on 01/10/2005 12:01:12 PM PST by stoney
An Exegetical Look at the Establishment Clause
Monty Rainey www.juntosociety.com January, 11, 2005
Sometimes in the course of human events and an egregious society, it becomes necessary to muddle through the confusion and reveal the basic premise of an object. Such is the case with the First Amendment of the U. S. Bill of Rights, and more specifically, the establishment clause. The First Amendment has fallen under a barrage of hyperbole surrounding what it means and what it doesnt mean. So-called experts in the field of interpretation have managed, over the years, to drape a veil of confusion and distortion over the First Amendment. This confusion and distortion can easily be corrected by simply recalling our basic elementary language structure and giving an exegetical analysis of the First Amendment, and more specifically, the portion that has become known as the establishment clause.
(Excerpt) Read more at juntosociety.com ...
Well, I didn't say The People I said the people. What I meant was people, in the sense of you or me.
Would you agree, however that, barring a prohibition in their own constitutions, the states are free to establish their own religions or so arrange their governments that religion of whatever complexion, could play a role in their governments.( I have assumed that you think the tenth still has some relevance)
I read the first few paragraphs and it was just too paintful to continue.
Prior to 1868, and the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, I would have said yes. But under the Fourteenth Amendment, a state may not abridge the privileges and immunities of a citizen, nor may it deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without due process, or deny them equal protection of the laws. Putting aside the theory of incorporation (which I believe is correct), I don't believe that you can incorporate a church, grant a religion or church a part in government, or have anything other than a symbolic part of government without running afoul of those provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. (I guess, in theory, if every single person in a state, and every visitor to the state were of exactly the same mind regarding religion, then perhaps there could be some involvement, but that is totally unrealistic.)
The Tenth Amendment would not come into play at all, because it talks of powers delegated to the Federal Government and prohibitions on the states found in the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment is part of the Constitution, so it trumps the Tenth Amendment.
Actually, I ignored the part of his essay that railed against the incorporation issue (i.e., whether the 14th Amendment made fundamental protections applicable to the states, as much as to the Federal Government), only because I thought it to be so well established that it required no argument.
The basis thesis is that the limitations on the abridgment of the fundamental liberties which the people possess (one of which is enshrined as the Establishment Clause) is applicable to the states, as evidenced by the Privileges & Immunity and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. That section reads:
There is a ton of propaganda agreeing with your comments. That propaganda is destroying the Constitution and country. It is also antithetical to most of the goals @ Free Republic. That gross abuse of the 14th Amendment has allowed the FEDERAL COURTS to break numerous state and local laws and dictate whatever to whomever for any or no reason.
The first rule of statutory construction is to read a statute according to its plain meaning. If the meaning of the statute is plain, then there is no need to proceed further. [. See Watt v. Alaska, 451 U.S. 259, 265 (1981) The First Amendment plainly states: "Congress shall make no law .
Adamson v. California (No. 102)
27 Cal.2d 478, 165 P.2d 3, affirmed.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, concurring.
No. 102 Argued: January 15-16, 1947 --- Decided: June 23, 1947
Between the incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment into the Constitution and the beginning of the present membership of the Court -- a period of seventy years -- the scope of that Amendment was passed upon by forty-three judges. Of all these judges, only one, who may respectfully be called an eccentric exception, ever indicated the belief that the Fourteenth Amendment was a shorthand summary of the first eight Amendments theretofore limiting only the Federal Government, and that due process incorporated those eight Amendments as restrictions upon the powers of the States. Among these judges were not only those who would have to be included among the greatest in the history of the Court, but -- it is especially relevant to note -- they included those whose services in the cause of human rights and the spirit of freedom are the most conspicuous in our history. It is not invidious to single out Miller, Davis, Bradley, Waite, Matthews, Gray, Fuller, Holmes, Brandeis, Stone and Cardozo (to speak only of the dead) as judges who were alert in safeguarding and promoting the interests of liberty and human dignity through law. But they were also judges mindful of the relation of our federal system to a progressively democratic society, and therefore duly regardful of the scope of authority that was left to the States even after the Civil War. And so they did not find that the Fourteenth Amendment, concerned as it was with matters fundamental to the pursuit of justice, fastened upon the States procedural arrangements which, in the language of Mr. Justice Cardozo, only those who are "narrow or provincial" would deem essential to "a fair and enlightened system of justice." Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325. To suggest that it is inconsistent with a truly free [p63] society to begin prosecutions without an indictment, to try petty civil cases without the paraphernalia of a common law jury, to take into consideration that one who has full opportunity to make a defense remains silent is, in de Tocqueville's phrase, to confound the familiar with the necessary.
After all, an amendment to the Constitution should be read in a "sense most obvious to the common understanding at the time of its adoption.' . . . For it was for public adoption that it was proposed." See Mr. Justice Holmes in Eisner v. Macomber, 252 U.S. 189, 220. Those reading the English language with the meaning which it ordinarily conveys, those conversant with the political and legal history of the concept of due process, those sensitive to the relations of the States to the central government, as well as the relation of some of the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the process of justice, would hardly recognize the Fourteenth Amendment as a cover for the various explicit provisions of the first eight Amendments. Some of these are enduring reflections of experience with human nature, while some express the restricted views of Eighteenth-Century England regarding the best methods for the ascertainment of facts. The notion that the Fourteenth Amendment was a covert way of imposing upon the [p64] States all the rules which it seemed important to Eighteenth Century statesmen to write into the Federal Amendments was rejected by judges who were themselves witnesses of the process by which the Fourteenth Amendment became part of the Constitution. Arguments that may now be adduced to prove that the first eight Amendments were concealed within the historic phrasing [*] of the Fourteenth Amendment were not unknown at the time of its adoption. A surer estimate of their bearing was possible for judges at the time than distorting distance is likely to vouchsafe. Any evidence of design or purpose not contemporaneously known could hardly have influenced those who ratified the Amendment. Remarks of a particular proponent of the Amendment, no matter how influential, are not to be deemed part of the Amendment. What was submitted for ratification was his proposal, not his speech. Thus, at the time of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the constitutions of nearly half of the ratifying States did not have the rigorous requirements of the Fifth Amendment for instituting criminal proceedings through a grand jury. It could hardly have occurred to these States that, by ratifying the Amendment, they uprooted their established methods for prosecuting crime and fastened upon themselves a new prosecutorial system.
Indeed, the suggestion that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the first eight Amendments as such is not unambiguously urged. Even the boldest innovator would shrink from suggesting to more than half the States that [p65] they may no longer initiate prosecutions without indictment by grand jury, or that, thereafter, all the States of the Union must furnish a jury of twelve for every case involving a claim above twenty dollars. There is suggested merely a selective incorporation of the first eight Amendments into the Fourteenth Amendment. Some are in and some are out, but we are left in the dark as to which are in and which are out. Nor are we given the calculus for determining which go in and which stay out. If the basis of selection is merely that those provisions of the first eight Amendments are incorporated which commend themselves to individual justices as indispensable to the dignity and happiness of a free man, we are thrown back to a merely subjective test. The protection against unreasonable search and seizure might have primacy for one judge, while trial by a jury of twelve for every claim above twenty dollars might appear to another as an ultimate need in a free society. In the history of thought, "natural law" has a much longer and much better founded meaning and justification than such subjective selection of the first eight Amendments for incorporation into the Fourteenth. If all that is meant is that due process contains within itself certain minimal standards which are "of the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty," Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325, putting upon this Court the duty of applying these standards from time to time, then we have merely arrived at the insight which our predecessors long ago expressed. We are called upon to apply to the difficult issues of our own day the wisdom afforded by the great opinions in this field, such as those in Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U.S. 97; Missouri v. Lewis, 101 U.S. 22; Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516; Holden v. Hardy, 169 U.S. 366; Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, and Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319. This guidance bids us to be duly mindful of the heritage of the past, with its great lessons of how liberties are won and [p66] how they are lost. As judges charged with the delicate task of subjecting the government of a continent to the Rule of Law, we must be particularly mindful that it is "a constitution we are expounding," so that it should not be imprisoned in what are merely legal forms, even though they have the sanction of the Eighteenth Century.
It may not be amiss to restate the pervasive function of the Fourteenth Amendment in exacting from the States observance of basic liberties. See Malinski v. New York, 324 U.S. 401, 412 et seq.; Louisiana v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459, 466 et seq. The Amendment neither comprehends the specific provisions by which the founders deemed it appropriate to restrict the federal government nor is it confined to them. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has an independent potency, precisely as does the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment in relation to the Federal Government. It ought not to require argument to reject the notion that due process of law meant one thing in the Fifth Amendment and another in the Fourteenth. The Fifth Amendment specifically prohibits prosecution of an "infamous crime" except upon indictment; it forbids double jeopardy; it bars compelling a person to be a witness against himself in any criminal case; it precludes deprivation of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. . . ." Are Madison and his contemporaries in the framing of the Bill of Rights to be charged with writing into it a meaningless clause? To consider "due process of law" as merely a shorthand statement of other specific clauses in the same amendment is to attribute to the authors and proponents of this Amendment ignorance of, or indifference to, a historic conception which was one of the great instruments in the arsenal of constitutional freedom which the Bill of Rights was to protect and strengthen. [p67]
A construction which gives to due process no independent function, but turns it into a summary of the specific provisions of the Bill of Rights would, as has been noted, tear up by the roots much of the fabric of law in the several States, and would deprive the States of opportunity for reforms in legal process designed for extending the area of freedom. It would assume that no other abuses would reveal themselves in the course of time than those which had become manifest in 1791. Such a view not only disregards the historic meaning of "due process." It leads inevitably to a warped construction of specific provisions of the Bill of Rights to bring within their scope conduct clearly condemned by due process but not easily fitting into the pigeonholes of the specific provisions. It seems pretty late in the day to suggest that a phrase so laden with historic meaning should be given an improvised content consisting of some, but not all, of the provisions of the first eight Amendments, selected on an undefined basis, with improvisation of content for the provisions so selected.
And so, when, as in a case like the present, a conviction in a State court is here for review under a claim that a right protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been denied, the issue is not whether an infraction of one of the specific provisions of the first eight Amendments is disclosed by the record. The relevant question is whether the criminal proceedings which resulted in conviction deprived the accused of the due process of law to which the United States Constitution entitled him. Judicial review of that guaranty of the Fourteenth Amendment inescapably imposes upon this Court an exercise of judgment upon the whole course of the proceedings in order to ascertain whether they offend those canons of decency and fairness which express the notions of justice of English-speaking peoples even toward [p68] those charged with the most heinous offenses. These standards of justice are not authoritatively formulated anywhere as though they were prescriptions in a pharmacopoeia. But neither does the application of the Due Process Clause imply that judges are wholly at large. The judicial judgment in applying the Due Process Clause must move within the limits of accepted notions of justice, and is not to be based upon the idiosyncrasies of a merely personal judgment. The fact that judges, among themselves, may differ whether, in a particular case, a trial offends accepted notions of justice is not disproof that general, rather than idiosyncratic, standards are applied. An important safeguard against such merely individual judgment is an alert deference to the judgment of the State court under review.
The prohibition against depriving the citizen or subject of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law is not new in the constitutional history of the English race. It is not new in the constitutional history of this country, and it was not new in the Constitution of the United States when it became a part of the fourteenth amendment, in the year 1866.
FRANKFURTER, J., Opinion of the Court
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Bartkus v. Illinois
No. 1 Argued: November 19, 1957 --- Decided: March 30, 1959
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.
2. The Fourteenth Amendment does not impliedly extend the first eight amendments to the States. Pp. 124-126.
Since the new prosecution was by Illinois, and not by the Federal Government, the claim of unconstitutionality must rest upon the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Prior cases in this Court relating to successive state and federal prosecutions have been concerned with the Fifth Amendment, and the scope of its proscription of second prosecutions by the Federal Government, not with the Fourteenth Amendment's effect on state action. We are now called upon to draw on the considerations which have guided the Court in applying the limitations of the Fourteenth Amendment on state powers. We have held from the beginning and uniformly that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to the States any of the provisions of the first eight amendments as such. [n2] The relevant historical materials have been canvassed by this Court and by legal scholars. [n3] These materials demonstrate conclusively that Congress and the members of the legislatures of the ratifying States did not contemplate that the Fourteenth Amendment was a shorthand incorporation of the first eight amendments, making them applicable as explicit restrictions upon the States.
Evidencing the interpretation by both Congress and the States of the Fourteenth Amendment is a comparison of the constitutions of the ratifying States with the Federal [p125] Constitution. Having regard only to the grand jury guarantee of the Fifth Amendment, the criminal jury guarantee of the Sixth Amendment, and the civil jury guarantee of the Seventh Amendment, it is apparent that, if the first eight amendments were being applied verbatim to the States, ten of the thirty ratifying States would have impliedly been imposing upon themselves constitutional requirements on vital issues of state policies contrary to those present in their own constitutions. [n4] Or, to approach the matter in a different way, they would be covertly altering provisions of their own constitutions in disregard of the amendment procedures required by those constitutions. Five other States would have been undertaking procedures not in conflict with, but not required by, their constitutions. Thus, only one-half, or fifteen, of the ratifying States had constitutions in explicit accord with these provisions of the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. Of these fifteen, four made alterations in their constitutions by 1875 which brought them into important conflict with one or more of these provisions of the Federal Constitution. One of the States whose constitution had not included any provision on one of the three procedures under investigation adopted a provision in 1890 which was inconsistent with the Federal Constitution. And so, by 1890, only eleven of the thirty ratifying States were in explicit accord with these provisions of the first eight amendments to the Federal Constitution. Four were silent as to one or more of the provisions, and fifteen were in open conflict with these same provisions. [n5] [p126]
Similarly imposing evidence of the understanding of the Due Process Clause is supplied by the history of the admission of the twelve States entering the Union after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the case of each, Congress required that the State's constitution be "not repugnant" to the Constitution of the United States. [n6] Not one of the constitutions of the twelve States contains all three of the procedures relating to grand jury, criminal jury, and civil jury. In fact, all twelve have provisions obviously different from the requirements of the Fifth, Sixth, or Seventh Amendments. And yet, in the case of each admission, either the President of the United States or Congress or both have found that the constitution was in conformity with the Enabling Act and the Constitution of the United States. [n7] Nor is there warrant to believe that the States, in adopting constitutions with the specific purpose of complying with the requisites of admission, were, in fact, evading the demands of the Constitution of the United States.
391 U.S. 145
Duncan v. Louisiana
APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA.
No. 410 Argued: January 17, 1968 --- Decided: May 20, 1968
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, whom MR. JUSTICE STEWART joins, dissenting.
I believe I am correct in saying that every member of the Court for at least the last 135 years has agreed that our Founders did not consider the requirements of the Bill of Rights so fundamental that they should operate directly against the States. [n2] They were wont to believe rather that the security of liberty in America rested primarily upon the dispersion of governmental power across a federal system. [n3] The Bill of Rights was considered unnecessary by some, [n4] but insisted upon by others in order to curb the possibility of abuse of power by the strong central government they were creating. [n5]
9. Fairman, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights? The Original Understanding, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5 (1949). Professor Fairman was not content to rest upon the overwhelming fact that the great words of the four clauses of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment would have been an exceedingly peculiar way to say that
The rights heretofore guaranteed against federal intrusion by the first eight Amendments are henceforth guaranteed against state intrusion as well.
He therefore sifted the mountain of material comprising the debates and committee reports relating to the Amendment in both Houses of Congress and in the state legislatures that passed upon it. He found that, in the immense corpus of comments on the purpose and effects of the proposed amendment, and on its virtues and defects, there is almost no evidence whatever for "incorporation." The first eight Amendments are so much as mentioned by only two members of Congress, one of whom effectively demonstrated (a) that he did not understand Barron v. Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, and therefore did not understand the question of incorporation, and (b) that he was not himself understood by his colleagues. One state legislative committee report, rejected by the legislature as a whole, found § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment superfluous because it duplicated the Bill of Rights: the committee obviously did not understand Barron v. Baltimore either. That is all Professor Fairman could find, in hundreds of pages of legislative discussion prior to passage of the Amendment, that even suggests incorporation.
To this negative evidence the judicial history of the Amendment could be added. For example, it proved possible for a Court whose members had lived through Reconstruction to reiterate the doctrine of Barron v. Baltimore, that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the States, without so much as questioning whether the Fourteenth Amendment had any effect on the continued validity of that principle. E.g., Walker v. Sauvinet, 92 U.S. 90; see generally Morrison, Does the Fourteenth Amendment Incorporate the Bill of Rights? The Judicial Interpretation, 2 Stan.L.Rev. 140 (1949).
The Fourteenth Amendment is part of the Constitution, so it trumps the Tenth Amendment.
In Madison's words, the popular consent upon which the Constitution's authority rests was "given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong." The Federalist No. 39, p. 243 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (hereinafter The Federalist). Accord, 3 Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 94 (J. Elliot 2d ed. 1876) (hereinafter [ U.S. TERM LIMITS, INC. v. THORNTON, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 3] Elliot) (remarks of James Madison at the Virginia convention). 1
When they adopted the Federal Constitution, of course, the people of each State surrendered some of their authority to the United States (and hence to entities accountable to the people of other States as well as to themselves). They affirmatively deprived their States of certain powers, see, e.g., Art. I, 10, and they affirmatively conferred certain powers upon the Federal Government, see, e.g., Art. I, 8. Because the people of the several States are the only true source of power, however, the Federal Government enjoys no authority beyond what the Constitution confers: the Federal Government's powers are limited and enumerated. In the words of Justice Black, "[t]he United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source." Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 5 -6 (1957) (plurality opinion) (footnote omitted).
In each State, the remainder of the people's powers - "[t]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States," Amdt. [ U.S. TERM LIMITS, INC. v. THORNTON, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 4] 10 - are either delegated to the state government or retained by the people. The Federal Constitution does not specify which of these two possibilities obtains; it is up to the various state constitutions to declare which powers the people of each State have delegated to their state government. As far as the Federal Constitution is concerned, then, the States can exercise all powers that the Constitution does not withhold from them. The Federal Government and the States thus face different default rules: where the Constitution is silent about the exercise of a particular power - that is, where the Constitution does not speak either expressly or by necessary implication - the Federal Government lacks that power and the States enjoy it.
These basic principles are enshrined in the Tenth Amendment, which declares that all powers neither delegated to the Federal Government nor prohibited to the States "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." With this careful last phrase, the Amendment avoids taking any position on the division of power between the state governments and the people of the States: it is up to the people of each State to determine which "reserved" powers their state government may exercise. But the Amendment does make clear that powers reside at the state level except where the Constitution removes them from that level. All powers that the Constitution neither delegates to the Federal Government nor prohibits to the States are controlled by the people of each State.
To be sure, when the Tenth Amendment uses the phrase "the people," it does not specify whether it is referring to the people of each State or the people of the Nation as a whole. But the latter interpretation would make the Amendment pointless: there would have been no reason to provide that where the Constitution is silent about whether a particular power resides at the state level, it might or might not do so. In addition, it [ U.S. TERM LIMITS, INC. v. THORNTON, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 5] would make no sense to speak of powers as being reserved to the undifferentiated people of the Nation as a whole, because the Constitution does not contemplate that those people will either exercise power or delegate it. The Constitution simply does not recognize any mechanism for action by the undifferentiated people of the Nation. Thus, the amendment provision of Article V calls for amendments to be ratified not by a convention of the national people, but by conventions of the people in each State or by the state legislatures elected by those people. Likewise, the Constitution calls for Members of Congress to be chosen State by State, rather than in nationwide elections. Even the selection of the President surely the most national of national figures - is accomplished by an electoral college made up of delegates chosen by the various States, and candidates can lose a Presidential election despite winning a majority of the votes cast in the Nation as a whole. See also Art. II, 1, cl. 3 (providing that when no candidate secures a majority of electoral votes, the election of the President is thrown into the House of Representatives, where "the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representatives from each State having one Vote"); Amdt. 12 (same).
The people of each State obviously did trust their fate to the people of the several States when they consented to the Constitution; not only did they empower the governmental institutions of the United States, but they also agreed to be bound by constitutional amendments that they themselves refused to ratify. See Art. V (providing that proposed amendments shall take effect upon ratification by three-quarters of the States). At the same time, however, the people of each State retained their separate political identities. As Chief Justice Marshall put it, "[n]o [ U.S. TERM LIMITS, INC. v. THORNTON, ___ U.S. ___ (1995) , 6] political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass." McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 403 (1819). 2
Any ambiguity in the Tenth Amendment's use of the phrase "the people" is cleared up by the body of the Constitution itself. Article I begins by providing that the Congress of the United States enjoys "[a]ll legislative Powers herein granted," 1, and goes on to give a careful enumeration of Congress' powers, 8. It then concludes by enumerating certain powers that are prohibited to the States. The import of this structure is the same as the import of the Tenth Amendment:
So, we disagree on the incorportion doctrine? Is this a first for FR????
>>no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation<<
True, and it also misstates what Jefferson wrote. He said, "thus building a wall of separation", which is to say the RESULT of the establishment clause, in his view, was the wall, not the PURPOSE.
Then why don't you use your far superior language skills and write a similar commantary?
I can overlook your "tone." I wish I had the time to correct his errors, but I do not. He should at least have had a grammarian critically review this work before posting/publishing.
Here are two egregious errors:  He calls "law" an adjective. It is a noun.  He calls "respecting" a gerund. It is a participle in form, but here it functions as a preprosition whose object is "an establishment of religion." The entire prepositional phrase "respecting an establishment of religion" is not a verbal noun, it is adjectival, modifying "law." So here confuses what is essentially an adjective with a [verbal] noun (gerund). (Consider "I love Mom's cooking." "cooking" is a gerund.)
I was expecting an "exegesis", not a "grammatical analysis" which is what I've been trained to do (BA Classics/Classical Civilization, Graduate work in Linguistics, before bailing and completing BA/MS in Computer Science.)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.