Category Archives: Constitution

War and Compensation

When I was younger, I never much paid attention to the wording, of “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” from the Fifth amendment. All I remember now is a vague sense of thinking that the government could only do this during wartime.

I realize now that public use is broader than that. But I don’t think it’s as broad as the Kelo v. New London decision would have it. I guess I’m too dumb to figure out how it constitutes “public use.” I looked up “public” in the dictionary; I looked up “use” in the dictionary; I still couldn’t figure it out. How does giving land to corporations constitute “public” use? How is adding jobs public “use”? I guess I’ll take the time to read the actual court case to figure it out, but for some reason, I still doubt I’ll get it.

While I was at it, looking up things in the dictionary, I also looked up “just.” This is arguable, but I don’t think fair market value for your home is “just.” I hope the cities pay for moving expenses and such. I really don’t know what they do.

All I know is, it really sucks for the common man.

Analyzing Proper

Re-analyzing Gonzales v. Raich, I actually have reasoning better than what was implied by my satire. The supremacy of federal drug law over a state law is not that big of a stretch as I implied. One could argue that the Congress has the ability to regulate wholly intrastate activities as an extension of the necessary and proper clause. Indeed, it may be necessary. However, I would argue that it’s not proper. It overstretches the federal government’s power, especially since it took an amendment to ban alcohol. Additionally, in my eyes, it violates the principles of federalism. Well, that depends on your interpretation of federalism. The state has its sphere, and the national government is interfering with the sphere in an improper situation, in my opinion. Federalism allows for experimentation within states. It can’t happen if the national government is regulating everything. If it was a matter of national security, then the national government would have the necessary and proper powers to regulate. Medicinal marijuana should be left to the states. It is not proper for the national government to interfere.

Six Degrees of Necessary and Proper Separation

I completely agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Raich. After all, using marijuana for medical use is similar to using marijuana for pleasure, which is like using cocaine for pleasure, which was shown in Kill Bill II directed by Quentin Tarantino, who was in Girl 6 (1996) with Arthur J. Nascarella, who was in In the Cut (2003) with Kevin Bacon. Thus, the necessary and proper Kevin Bacon clause — Article 1, Section 8 — is satisfied, federalism be damned.

Necessary and proper credit to: The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia.

It’s juxtaposition time!

American deaths per year resulting directly or primarily from alcohol: 340,000 to 450,000

American deaths per year resulting directly or primarily from marijuana: 0


It took an amendment to ban alcohol.

(Medicinal use of) Marijuana was banned without an amendment.

Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School

This article pissed me off: Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif School.

Right after a quote about supposed discrimination against Christians, we get this ending paragraph, “In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a California atheist who wanted the words “under God” struck from the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by school children. The appeals court in California had found that the phrase amounted to a violation of church and state separation.”

… what the hell?

Tell me, what the hell does that have to do with anything at all in the article? Nothing, actually. It’s just a sneaky way to make people think that taking the words “under God” back out of the Pledge of Allegiance equals persecution against Christians. Sorry, wrong.

There’s just a few minor differences. First off, the Pledge of Allegiance did not originally have “under God” in it. That’s why I said “back out” in that previous sentence. We got through two world wars without saying “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. Yeah, that’s right, the “greatest generation” did not start out saying “God” in their Pledge of Allegiance. How’s that for tradition?

Second difference: the word pledge. It’s a pledge of allegiance! Can you get that through your minds?! Not a document of historical importance. (Again, I must note that “under God” wasn’t in there in the first place.) It’s a PLEDGE! Doesn’t that mean something to you? Doesn’t it mean that it means the government is endorsing God if it’s in the pledge of allegiance? If you agree, then I must inform you, there’s a little thing standing in the way of keeping “under God” in the pledge… and that thing is called the Constitution.

… which brings me back to the Declaration of Independence. I don’t know the context, but I think it’s stupid to ban the Declaration of Independence. It’s stupid to ban all historical documents that have mention of God. There, I said it. It is stupid. Because that’s misrepresenting history. But let’s analyze this situation a little deeper: It is not discrimination against Christians to ban these documents. Why? Because some of the Founding Fathers were deists. It’s not specific against Christianity. So there. Nyah.

Anyway, the real point non-technicality point I want to make is: So what if the Declaration of Independence says “God” in it? People wave that around as if it’s proof of God. Yeah well, there’s a little thing standing in your way again, and that’s the Constitution. Guess what’s the basis of our laws? Guess… I’ll make it easier. Multiple choice: Is it A) Declaration of Independence, or B) Constitution. If you answered A, you are wrong.

The Constitution is the basis of our laws here in the United States. So, you can wave around your historical opinions, but I’d rather stick with the document that makes us a more perfect union.

It’s not okay if the teacher has a specifically Christian agenda and is shoving said agenda down his students’ throats. It’s okay to have these documents if he’s teaching real history, not his evangelical version of it. Wait, you may ask, why can’t the teacher teach it if he wants to? Isn’t it a freedom of speech issue? No, it’s not. The teacher is getting paid by the government, and is working at a state institution. The teacher is essentially acting as a state official in his position, and the state cannot promote a specifically Christian agenda.

If you teach that some of the Founders were deeply religious, you must also teach that they so valued religion that they deemed it necessary to separate it from government. The personal views of some Founding Fathers do not make this a Christian Nation. And so, before I end this entry, I must invoke the Constitution one more time. Remember, the Constitution does not say any god made this nation, but starts out with “We the people”.

1 + 14 = Rights

MoodVertigo quotes Joseph Story. Joseph Story’s opinions regarding the First Amedment are obsolete. Why? Let’s examine Joseph Story a bit further. In Barron v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, a unanimous Supreme Court “found that the limitations on government articulated in the Fifth Amendment were specifically intended to limit the powers of the national government. Citing the intent of the framers and the development of the Bill of Rights as an exclusive check on the government in Washington D.C., Marshall argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in this case since the Fifth Amendment was not applicable to the states.”

Let that sink in. “Wait a second,” you may cry out, “But the states cannot take away those rights… Can they?” The answer is: No, they cannot. After the Civil War, a little thing called the 14th Amendment was passed. One part states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, wiithout due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Because of the 14th Amendment, your text regarding the 1st Amendment is incorrect. The states cannot do all the things you said. A state cannot infringe on a person’s religious freedoms.

You see, the 1st Amendment is worded the way it is because at that time, states were thought to be the bastions of freedom. The national government was the one to be feared. Over time, this changed. States ended up taking away people’s rights — thus, part of the necessity for the 14th amendment.

So, I hope next time you speak of this subject matter, you remember the implications of the 14th Amendment.

Religious Taxes OK According to You

In a long comment to my Answering a Fifth Comment Regarding the Pledge entry, MoodVertigo said, “It doesn’t say that states cannot establish a religion or observe religious holidays in their own constitutions. It doesn’t say that cities, counties, or school districts cannot show respect for the Bible or Christianity (or any other religion for that matter). The First Amendment doesn’t imply in even the vaguest way that it is unconstitutional for a city to erect a manger scene in the town square at Christmas or for a school teacher to offer up a prayer to God at a graduation ceremony or before daily classes begin. You cannot get that out of the First Amendment, even if you stretch. The First Amendment only limits Congress; no one else.”

Ah, so it doesn’t limit states or cities. Hm… I want to propose a bill taxing all Christians. We’ll call it the “Jesus Tax.” Only, it’ll only be a state bill. I live in California. So, let’s say California collects the money and uses it to fund anything the state legislature thinks Jesus would really, really like. No, better yet, let’s introduce a “Jew Tax,” also known as the “Didn’t Accept Jesus as the Savior Tax.” We’ll tax Jews for not accepting Christ as the Savior and restitution for letting Jesus die. Then, we’ll introduce the “Muslim Tax” to make a relief fund for September 11th victims (because after all, Islam was the root cause of September 11th) and oppressed women in countries with Islam. Only the money can be used to fund suicide bombers if the state legislature finds it okay. Next we’ll introduce an “Evil Atheist Tax” because, face it, evil costs money. Evil is the reason why we have to have prisons. Thus, it is only fair that atheists should pay for prisons. To live such a licentious life without morals is a privilege, not a right, and also demands a special payment.

Under your reasoning, none of this would be unconstitutional. Thank you very much. I’m sure this is exactly what was intended by the first amendment.

Furthermore, your reasoning is outdated. How outdated? About 140 years outdated. More on this, tomorrow.


“The First Amendment says that congress shall make no law establishing (not regarding) a religion. It doesn’t say that the government should not or cannot publicly acknowledge religion.” said MoodVertigo, in a comment under my entry, Answering a Fifth Comment Regarding the Pledge. Sorry, you are simply incorrect.

Let’s look at the wording of the first amendment, shall we? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Publicly acknowledging religion does “establish” religion. By endorsing religion, the government would claim the validity of religion. From your context, you want the government to proclaim the validity of Christianity. But you see, by saying one is right, it means another is wrong. The government has managed to create a law “respecting an establishment of religion.” I think you’re confusing the issue with creating a national church. Creating a national church is contained within the context of the First Amendment.

If merely the creation of a national church was the issue then how come: A) US officials cannot be required to take religious tests, and B) there is “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” in the First Amendment.

[03/02/04 – EDIT: Started rewriting this entry, will fix later]

Congress Added Under God

MoodVertigo wrote a really long comment over at my Answering a Fifth Comment Regarding the Pledge entry. It’s really long, so I’ll only go over it piece by piece.

Alright, I’ll make this really basic. For the sake of argument, let’s assume all your reasoning is correct, specifically: “The First Amendment only limits Congress; no one else.”

From The Pledge of Allegiance A Short History, we learn that, “In 1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, ‘under God,’ to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer” [emphasis mine]. Okay, so Congress specifically made a “law respecting an establishment of religion,” got it?

It does respect an establishment of religion because, first of all, any god equals religion. Second, as I’ve mentioned before, “God” is a proper noun, a specific name. We would not approve of “under Allah” in the Pledge of Allegiance, so we should not approve of “under God”.

Even under your reasoning, the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are still unconstitutional.

To ID, or not to ID

Wired news article: Fighting for Right Not to Show ID. To sum it up, a guy refuses to show his ID, so he gets thrown in jail and, later, fined. Now the case is before the Supreme Court, with the guy arguing that Nevada’s law requiring him to show his ID to the officer violates his Fourth and Fifth amendment rights.

I think I’ll agree that it violates rights because of this quote from the article: “‘Every little time something like this happens, the police question you and want to know who you are, it’s an incident that gets put into a database,’ Hofmann said. ‘And there will be a record of it thereafter, regardless of whether you did anything wrong’.”

Yet, I’m still not completely sure what to think.

Answering a Fifth Comment Regarding the Pledge

Emily Yarr said: “If you don’t like saying our pledge, and it personally offends you, simply get outta here and say someone else’s pledge.”

First, “Hey, Jesus, if you don’t like the way we’re running the church right now, simply get outta here.” Now, I’m not equating myself with Jesus, but I’m guessing that you’re Christian, and what you’re saying would not be approved of by Jesus. Jesus wasn’t trying to form a new religion; he was trying to “fix” Judaism.

Second, your statement does not summarize how democracy works. If you don’t like the way the current representatives are running things, then you vote for someone else, you don’t simply get outta here. Read my Answering a Second Comment Regarding the Pledge entry for a little bit more information.

Answering a Fourth Comment Regarding the Pledge

In response to my original critique of the Pledge of Allegiance, Christina Williams said: “First of all an agnoiologist needs to study you because what you said is stupid. I respect that some people have different beliefs than I do, but you don’t even back up why God should be taken out of anything. God is everything and one day every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that he is Lord.”

But I do back up why God should be taken out of the Pledge: It’s unconstitutional to have “God” in there, which is a proper noun for a specific god.

Do you really respect that some people have different beliefs than you do? In essense, what you’re saying is: “I respect what other people believe, but they are all wrong, and one day they’ll realize that my god is the correct god.”

I Was Quoted

Check this out: My weblog (the one you’re reading right now) was quoted in the Agnosticism/Atheism section of I subscribe to the newsletter and was rather surprised when I clicked on a link and then found myself quoted. I feel special. The internet is a beautiful place.

Answering a Second Comment Regarding the Pledge

In response to my entry, Answering a Comment Regarding the Pledge (which answers a comment from my original Pledge entry), Landon said:

So in response of your response, what is the evidence for evolution? I bet you don’t even know it. I completly agree with the first guy.

George Washington states

“Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

I found that at the University of Chicago Press’ site. Now explain that. Our founding father states that we are a religious country.

But you are exactly correct about this country; about it being a Democracy, and you have a chance to voice your opinion, but the fact is, America was founded upon religion of the ‘Almighty’ as Washington puts it. If you don’t like what America is, LEAVE, GO SOMEPLACE ELSE. I’m sure Mexico will love you to voice your opinion.

‘Under God’ was put there for a reason. It was during the Cold Wars’ most difficult time.

Pres. Eisenhower states “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

‘Under God’ is simply a reflection of our religious heritage.

First, regarding evolution… Read Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The finches of the Galapagos Islands adapted to fill different ecological niches. Another supporting piece of evidence is that artificial selection produced different dog breeds. Different pressures in nature can produce change in species. How about bacteria that are becoming resistant to certain antibiotics? Explain that without evolution by natural selection. Evolution is defined as a change in allele frequencies within a population. And before any one shouts out anything of macroevolution versus microevolution, I’d like to quote the Agnosticism/Atheism FAQ on evolution: “If you find a creationist arguing that microevolution can occur but macroevolution cannot, simply ask them what biological or logical barriers prevent the former from becoming the latter – and listen to the silence.” From now on, if any one wishes to comment, please read: Evolution is a separate issue from the Pledge of Allegiance. Comments on the two subjects should therefore be separate.

On to the second point regarding George Washington’s address on Thanksgiving… Please look at this page on Thanksgiving from the Smithsonian Institute. I don’t deny that some of the Founding Fathers were religious. I don’t deny that people had religious beliefs when founding this nation. But, I do believe religion is a personal issue, not a state issue. The state should not interfere with religion, and religion should not interfere with the state. Apparently, I’m not the only one: “The next three Presidents proclaimed, at most, two days of thanksgiving sometime during their terms of office, either on their own initiative or at the request of a joint Resolution of Congress. One exception was Thomas Jefferson, who believed it was a conflict of church and state to require the American people hold a day of prayer and thanksgiving. President James Madison proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to be held on April 13, 1815, the last such proclamation issued by a President until Abraham Lincoln did so in 1862.” You can state privately that you believe America is supported by a god, but the government should issue no laws respecting any religions.

Although you can choose to believe that a god provided the opportunity for the United States to be formed, you can’t deny that people wrote those words, not any god. We are a nation founded by people, not any god. This nation is for the people, not any god. Notice this within address itself: “especially by affording them [the People of the United States] an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now, look at this, also within the proclamation: “for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed” [emphasis mine]. And is that liberty not infringed upon when a government forces us to pledge to one particular “God”? Even that day of Thanksgiving was but recommended to the American people.

The statement by Eisenhower merely reaffirms that “under God” is meant specifically to endorse religion. I don’t believe that the Constitution allows that. Since I don’t believe in any god, I specifically disagree with the theology behind the statement. We are not “under” any god. The people are subject to their own authority, not any god’s authority. That however, is a different point. The main crux of my argument still is that it is not Constitutional.

I disagree with you about your viewpoint on democracy. I seem to be getting an image that if people disagree with you, they should put up with what you believe, or get out? I believe that democracy involves discourse between disagreeing opinions. If something is wrong, we should try to fix it, not “get out.” Sorry, there are people who disagree with some of your opinions, and they love America just as much as you do. They just may love different aspects of it; for example, I value democracy, republicanism, religious freedom, and discourse. Getting out doesn’t solve anything. Did the Founding Fathers just “get out” when they didn’t like Parliament’s policies? Not that I’m equating the two issues, just making a rhetorical point.

But no, I just love how I have the right to voice my opinion, but if I’m “wrong,” I should be quiet, but still thankful that I can voice my opinion because in other countries they can’t… I just love how that adds up…

Answering a Comment Regarding the Pledge

In response to this entry regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, Selam Fente, 13 said:

I think that “under God” should not be taken out of the pledge of allegiance because our nation was FOUNDED UNDER GOD. The Pilgrims and Seperatists came to America to escape religious persucution. No one is forced to believe in the Christian God, but just because this is now and that was then doesn’t mean that just because our nation has many varieties of people we should forget why America was founded.

As for public schools, I don’t get why in the world you are not allowed to teach to teach Christianity when you can in fact teach evolution. When public schools were founded, the main subject that was taught was the Bible. Now you can’t even tell people about God. That is insane!!!

First off, your two paragraphs address two entirely different subjects. The second paragraph isn’t quite about the Pledge of Allegiance, but I’ll address it anyway. Evolution is a scientific theory. Evolution has evidence. God has no evidence. There is no evidence for any god. Evolution is based on the scientific method. Evolution is an important part of life sciences. Want to be a biologist, but don’t “believe” in evolution? Forget about it, unless you get a job as a pseudo-scientist. Also, I’m not saying schools shouldn’t teach morality, but you don’t need any god to enforce this morality, to make people accept it, or else.

As for the first paragraph, America is not a theocracy. It was founded on the principles of democracy and republicanism. The people you mentioned did not found the United States of America. The USA is a sovereign nation, separate from Britain. I’d suggest you also check your history. Not everyone came to the British colonies to escape religious persecution. In fact, not everyone aboard the Mayflower was a “Pilgrim” and the voyage itself was funded by those with commercial interests. I’m not here to give a history lesson, so I’ll leave more details up to you to find.

The Declaration of Independence mentions inalienable rights. These are the basis of our separation from Britain; America was not founded to escape religious persecution from Britain. Read the actual Declaration of Independence. Do you see anything about religious persecution? The colonies were also rebelling against a King. It states the King’s transgressions. And the King supposedly had his rights handed down to him from God. Do you believe our presidents are chosen by God or the people?

Besides, the Constitution is the foundation of our laws and the basis for how our country is run. Not the Declaration of Independence. Nowhere in the Constitution will you find any mention of any god. Nowhere will you find that this nation was “founded under God.” Our government is not a theocracy.

Since this is a national pledge, according to the Constitution, the words “under God” shouldn’t be there. Read the Constitution. Justify it, using the Constitution. You can’t.

Christianity is not the official religion of the United States of America. According to the CIA World Factbook, 10% report having no religion. This isn’t a tiny number, considering the number of people in America.

From Jefferson’s inaugural address: “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

These rights are defined by the Constitution. Although you consider yourself of the majority, you cannot infringe on my right to freely exercise whatever religious ideals I wish to have. The Pledge of Allegiance cannot force the people of America to submit to any god, even your “God.”

I suggest you don’t ignore why the United States of America was founded.

[12/05/03 – EDIT: I answered the comment here with this entry]

Republic Versus Democracy

America is not simply a democracy. Nor is it simply a republic. It is both. It is meant to balance both. Too much republic, and the leaders become tyrannical. Too much democracy, and you’ve only really got an ochlocracy. That’s why it was originally a House of Representatives elected by popular vote, and a Senate elected by state legislatures. That’s why there is an Electoral College.

It’s definitely true that you can’t put too much power in the hands of the general masses. Anendotal example: In English class we were supposed to give a “present” to a character in the novel The Grapes of Wrath. After everyone presented, we were to vote on the best one. Now, some people had some well-thought out gifts, but ones that weren’t too appealing to the general masses. What did appeal to the general masses were breast pumps. People voted, and that’s what won.

Not everyone is a politician, not everyone is informed enough to make important decisions. That’s why we elect representatives. Many people aren’t willing to sacrifice in the short-term to achieve a long-term goal.

Would you rather have a well-educated or an uneducated person lead you? Or, let me put it this way, would you rather have an informed person lead you, or an uninformed person lead you? Not everyone can be trusted to lead. Not everyone is fit to lead. It does make a difference who leads us.

Now, this doesn’t mean that there’s an elite class to rule us, it just means that some people are better leaders than others. And those that are better should be leading. There are less people who can lead than those who can’t. That’s why we can’t just let the general public decide everything.

I’m not going to go into the dangers of lending to much power to the republic side. We all know about the dangers of dictatorship. I just wanted to explain that an ochlocracy is also dangerous.

Let me apply this to the recent successful California governor recall. According to what I said, perhaps you’d think I would’ve been against the recall. Not so. This is because it was at the state level. States are more local and should be influenced more by the general public. The federal government has more distance. States should be able to decide whether a popular vote can recall a state official. California did decide that. The recall was good. As long as the standards are set high enough, it keeps democracy and republic balanced.


Just a quick thought… I wouldn’t consider myself “pro-life,” but it seems that the states should decide the issue of abortion, according to the 10th amendment. Hm. I’ll have to think about this some more.

Pledge of Allegiance

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

There are two words in there that shouldn’t be in there, can you spot them? Answer: under God.

In a pure poetic sense, they don’t fit. They sound completely mashed in there. When people say “one nation under God / indivisible,” they speed through the line as fast as possible and it doesn’t fit the meter. Everything else is said slow and fits rhythmically. It also sounds weird that the one word indivisible is set off separately from that long line. When said the other way “one nation / under God / indivisible” it still sounds tacked in there. It’s an exact syllabic repetition. It sounds extra and uneeded. You might as well tack in 100 three-syllable lines. Say it yourself without the “under God” and see how much better it flows.

More importantly, the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional with those lines in there. It forces one to admit to a faith in order to pledge allegiance to this country. It establishes a fact that there is a god. Any profession of faith in a god is a religious statement. No matter which way you look at it, god equals religion. Therefore, the Pledge of Allegiance specifically violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. It also violates the free exercise clause. I’ve heard that it doesn’t because it’s not specific to one religion. If it wasn’t specific to the Christian God, it would say “under a god” not “under God.” The capital letter makes it a proper noun, or a name, specifically, the name of the Christian God.

Some may say, I’m not forced to say the pledge, so I shouldn’t complain. It doesn’t matter because it’s the country’s pledge, not just something I recite. Besides, I want to recite the pledge. It’s not fair that I should have to say I believe in a god to profess allegiance to my country when I don’t believe in a god.

I want “under God” specifically removed from the pledge because it wasn’t in there before. It was added in for the purpose of making children profess faith in the Christian God. (Don’t believe me, look up what the president said when signing it in to effect.) Taking out religious references from sources that originally contained religion would be defacing art. Read the Coda from Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. However, adding religious references to sources that don’t contain them defaces art just as much as the other way around. What if the word God were inserted all over the Constitution?

Adding “under God” to the pledge ruined the poetry, and made it unconstitutional. The meaning of each word in the pledge carries great weight, and I don’t wish for the United States to deface it with proselytization.

[11/06/03 – EDIT: I have responded to the one comment for this entry.]