How the 1st Amendment Works

Dahlia Lithwick writes an excellent article in Slate this week on the case recently decided by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals which declared that it was inappropriate for meetings of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in North Carolina to be opened with specifically Christian prayers. It is, the judges declared in a 2-1 decision, a violation of the First Amendment establishment of religion clause.

Many people were outraged, declaring that those offended by the ruling were a decided minority in the community. But, as Lithwick notes,

It doesn’t matter if only 4 percent of the community is expressly excluded by references to a certain deity. It also doesn’t matter if only 1 percent of the community feels that way, or even if only two “hypersensitive” non-Christians object. The Bill of Rights is not subject to popular referendum. That’s why it’s called the Bill of Rights and not, say, American Idol.

Well worth reading the full article.

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