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“Federal judge rules cross on Lehigh County seal is unconstitutional”

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Dear LVC Editor,

The judge is ignorant of the Constitution of the United States.  According to your article, the judge claimed the Lehigh County seal “violated the Establishment Clause, which forbids government from favoring one faith over others or prohibiting religious practice.”.  There is no such provision in the entire Constitution of the United States.  The Establishment Clause, found in Amendment I reads as follows:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …

Congress made no law regarding Lehigh County’s seal.  In fact, the federal government has no jurisdiction in this matter.  See Amendment X:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The judge has violated two of the underlying principles of the Constitution:

  • Federalism – The court has failed to recognize it has no jurisdiction in this matter.  This is a matter for the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
  • Separation of Powers – The Constitution recognizes three branches of the federal government – legislative, executive and judicial.  The Establishment Clause limits Congress by prohibiting it from passing any law that might tend to establish a national religion.  But it also prevents Congress from passing a law to prevent the free exercise of religion.  Since there is no law passed by Congress prohibiting the exercise of religion in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the judge is unable to point to an applicable federal law.

No doubt the judge will fall back on case precedence, pointing to other cases in which it is claimed that the Establishment Clause applies to all “government”, not just Congress.  Unfortunately for the judge, he will find no source in the Constitution, in The Federalist or other credible source of interpreting the Constitution.  Thus the issue comes down to repeating a judicial error instead of understanding the Constitution the judge has sworn to support (see Article VI).  Prior cases may be consulted for guidance, but they do not trump the Constitution itself.

Phil Duffy

Instructor, Constitution of the United States

Regular Contributor, WFYL’s We the People – the Constitution Matters

 

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