By Michael Lodge, Greenville, SC: I was a strange kid growing up, let's get that out of the way. Three things I loved as a kid were business, history and, yes, the constitution. I saw at an incredibly early age that this document was the beginning and the end of the rule of law of the United States and if we were to attack the constitution, we would see our freedoms corrupted by politics and power. The constitution was written to protect us from government infringing on our freedoms and it's overreach.
My first experience seeing how the constitution works was with my father when I was seven years old. My father worked for an oil company in Seattle, Washington where they wanted him to work on Saturday, his Sabbath. The union wanted him to work on Saturdays and my father said he could not. They threatened him with his job, they would recommend that he be let go, if he did not work on Sabbath. My father went to his church, who had a religious liberty department that took on cases where religious freedom was at risk by employers and unions. It went to court and the court cited that the constitution protected by fathers’ religious liberties and the union backed down and my father was able to keep his Sabbath. I remember it so well, I was only seven at the time, but it always stuck in my mind that the constitution guarantees us many liberties, we are protected from government and civil cases involving employment that infringes on our constitutional rights. A memorable lesson learned.
I learned very early in life from watching my dad’s religious liberty case, that the United States Constitution stands as a cornerstone of American democracy, providing a framework for the nation's governance and protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of its citizens. Among its many vital provisions, the Constitution's commitment to safeguarding freedom of speech and ensuring equality for all Americans has proven to be of paramount importance. By limiting the power of the government to dictate what citizens can and cannot say, the Constitution empowers individuals to express their opinions openly, fostering a pluralistic society that thrives on the exchange of diverse ideas. Additionally, the Constitution's guarantee of equality ensures that every individual is treated fairly and without discrimination. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why the US Constitution plays a crucial role in protecting these cherished principles.
Freedom of Speech: The First Amendment
The First Amendment of the US Constitution explicitly protects the freedom of speech, stating, "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." This foundational principle grants individuals the right to express their opinions, ideas, and beliefs without fear of government reprisal. By ensuring that citizens can voice their dissent, criticism, and support, the Constitution enables the vibrant exchange of ideas necessary for the functioning of a democratic society.
Freedom of speech is not without its limits, as certain forms of expression, such as incitement to violence or defamation, fall outside its protections. However, the Constitution strikes a delicate balance, allowing for the regulation of speech only when it poses a direct threat to public safety or the rights of others. This protection extends not only to popular or widely accepted viewpoints but also to minority opinions and dissenting voices, fostering an environment that encourages innovation, progress, and social change.
We have learned within the last few years how the government tried to stop free speech of certain individuals who disagreed with government and their policies. We have heard testimony in Congress how various branches of government overstepped their boundaries and asked social media to remove statements of people, and the scary part is the social media did what the government said. They deleted or used other tactics to shut down tweets and other types of social media messaging systems of people expressing their opinion. They stomped on the constitutional rights of the American people’s freedom of speech. This is a dangerous situation, and the only way to resolve it is through the courts.
Politics is not the law; the constitution is the law. However, politicians that have a political agenda bypass the constitution, and feel their politics outweigh the constitution. If you see a politician going through their talking points on how mad they are at the court’s decisions, and are spinning only politics, but don't have a legal constitutional argument, they are normally always wrong because their politics are more important to them then the law. Remember, a politician sees American's only as a vote, so they spin emotional politics to get to your vote. Even though they take an oath of office to protect and defend the constitution, they run to the power wall and that becomes their law, not the constitution.
Equality and Non-Discrimination
The principle of equality is at the core of American democratic values, and the US Constitution plays a crucial role in ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and without discrimination. The Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment, in particular, prohibits states from denying any person within their jurisdiction equal protection under the law. This clause has been instrumental in advancing civil rights, combating racial segregation, and dismantling discriminatory practices.
The Constitution's guarantee of equality encompasses various dimensions, including race, gender, religion, and national origin. It serves as a bulwark against discrimination and provides a legal framework to challenge discriminatory laws or practices. If affirmative action only protects a few groups of people, then the constitution steps in and says all individuals are to be treated equally, and the court makes a justified constitutional correction. The courts have the right to go back and listen to challenges to certain laws passed to see if it is constitutional, not political, and then make a correction. based on the plaintiff and defendants’ constitutional argument.
Protection from Government Overreach
One of the core purposes of the US Constitution is to establish a system of government with checks and balances that prevent abuse of power. By delineating the powers of the federal government and reserving certain rights to the states and the people, the Constitution safeguards against undue governmental interference in individuals' lives and protects against the erosion of freedoms.
The First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech acts as a vital safeguard against government censorship. It ensures that individuals can criticize the government, engage in political discourse, and hold public officials accountable without fear of retribution. The Constitution's commitment to due process and equal protection under the law also serves as a bulwark against arbitrary government action, guaranteeing that every citizen is entitled to fair treatment and the opportunity to be heard.
The next time to hear politicians yelling and screaming against the courts and the constitution, they are infringing against your rights to protect you from government overreach. Forget the politics, and focus on the constitution. Everyone needs to read the constitution, so you are reminded what it is for - it protects you:
CONSTITUTION LINK: constitutioncenter.org/the-constitution/full-text
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.