What could be more fun than sitting down with the Constitution for a little recreational reading?, especially in the light of the “Constitution Restoration Act 2005” now before Congress. A quick read revealed no super executive or legislative powers with respect to the Judiciary except that a president is entitled to make recess court appointments, and originally only the Supreme Court was established by the Constitution with Congress establishing inferior courts. Judges held office during “good behavior” which is not defined.
Most interesting is Article VI entitled “The Supreme Law of the Land.” which says “all state and federal officers are bound by oath to support the Constitution,” closing with: “…no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This is significant because the “Restoration” bill stipulates that courts shall not hear cases that would question “acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty or government.” What a deliciously prickly situation might ensue from this apparent conflict – – the legislation passes but is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The right insists there’s “a war on faith.” Not really – – just strenuous objections to establishing a faith-based government. Tom DeLay proclaims “the will of the people” while Senator Cornyn says that frustration with judicial decisions may contribute to violence. As Jon Stuart mused on The Daily Show after viewing a clip of Cornyn’s remarks, “What a handsome crazy person.” As for DeLay, what people and whose will is he talking about? At a recent conference Richard Scarborough spoke about that so-called “judicial war on faith”, calling on Congress “to protect us from an over active judiciary.”(NY Times, 4/8/05, P. A21) Does anybody except such groups think we’d be better off controlled by an over-active religious right?
In a piece entitled “Hunger-Based Lines lengthen at Faith-Based Kitchens (NY Times, 4/8/05 Editorial) Francis X. Clines discusses the pressure on faith-based organizations, to service the long lines of “guests” waiting to be fed. Cuts in government programs for the poor and the loss of unemployment benefits have increased demand at charitable institutions. “…besieged directors (of NYC pantries and kitchens)warn that government, not charities, must take the lead if poverty is to be properly confronted.” Reverend Bill Greenlaw, director of the Holy Apostles charity, says “We’ll be feeding more guests unless and until society decides we don’t have to tolerate a huge underclass in our cities.”
To those who define “life” as an article of faith, working to elect leaders who see it as their duty to serve everyone, instead of just promoting special interests that provide political backing, would be a profound act of faith. Passing legislation that purports to honor and support the Constitution but in fact seeks to insert religious considerations where none previously existed is a tedious and meaningless exercise. Improving the quality of life for all Americans? — Now that’s a cause worth spending some time on.

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