What is Constitutional Now?

By Harrison Barron

Despite a federal court ruling in Wisconsin calling The National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, President Obama proclaimed that he will still acknowledge it. The Wisconsin court argued, “the Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which bans the creation of a ‘law respecting an establishment of religion’ in the Constitution,” according to CBS News.

The republican reaction to the ruling has been largely negative. Rep. Lamar Smith said, “The decision undermines the values of religious freedom that America was founded upon. What’s next? Declaring the federal holiday for Christmas unconstitutional?”

I feel that this sort of reaction isn’t logical. If the court was banning prayer altogether, you could certainly argue that they were making a decision that ran antithetical to the values upon which this country was founded.

But they aren’t. Under the reading of the first amendment, they are making a fairly simple, albeit, controversial decision. This day is unconstitutional because the constitution doesn’t allow for ‘law[s] respecting an establishment of religion.” Prayer is an “establishment of religion,” thus it is unlawful and has been ever since Congress established it in 1952.

I don’t think Obama should be celebrating it either. If we are, in this day and age, being so firm on what is constitutional and isn’t, a point of debate that fueled much of the health care discussion, shouldn’t the president be more sensitive? I think so.  But I can also only fathom the reaction that would come from both sides of the aisle if he did not.

Moving on.

On Friday, Arizona signed into law one of the strictest immigration laws in this country. The law requires police officers to question people about there citizenship, makes it unlawful to transport illegal immigrant or hire them as day-workers, and makes illegal immigration a crime under state law.

Arizona has one of the largest populations of illegal immigrants in this country at almost 500,000, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which makes this issue all the more sensitive and, in the opinion of some, even more necessary.

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the law a mile from the Capitol of Arizona in front of supporters and over 2,000 demonstrators. I am troubled by this law. Gov. Brewer said, “Decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation,” and I agree that Washington has been rather inactive and unproductive on this issue, but I don’t think this is the fix we need.

The illegal immigration issue is one of the most complicated, controversial and sensitive in American politics today, and this law only contributes to this confusion. I believe this law is going to lead to outrageous racial profiling in that area, because Arizona has one of America’s largest populations of Latinos, and a of them are here legally. This law is a touchy slope that I don’t think we need to be heading down.

President Obama is calling on a the Justice Department to see if this law is legal. Certainly something needs to be done on a national level to curb illegal immigration, but that won’t happen for years. The thing about this law is that it won’t necessarily slow illegal immigration.

It is a similar issue to abortion in that even when it’s illegal people are going to find a way to do it. It is clear, though, that this law is not a responsible or sensitive way to be dealing with this issue.


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