Tags: Religion | Supreme Court | federalism | constitution | baptist | greenville

Hats Off to Temple Baptist Church and the DOJ

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By Friday, 17 April 2020 03:05 PM Current | Bio | Archive

My Roman Catholic hat is off to the pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, and to the lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who wrote these words in support of the fundamental liberties of the men, women, and children of Temple Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi:

"There is no pandemic exception . . . to the fundamental liberties the Constitution safeguards. Indeed, ‘individual rights secured by the Constitution do not disappear during a public health crisis.’ In re Abbott, — F.3d —, 2020 WL 1685929, at *6 (5th Cir. Apr. 7, 2020). These individual rights, including the protections in the Bill of Rights . . . are always in force and restrain government action."

According to the "Statement of Interest" filed on April 14, 2020, by the U.S. Department of Justice in support of the plaintiffs in Temple Baptist Church v. City of Greenville, a civil rights lawsuit pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, Temple Baptist Church and its pastor, Arthur Scott, are “alleging that the city has taken improper action to stop it from holding drive-in church services in response to the COVID-19 virus."

In support of Pastor Scott and his congregation, the U.S. Justice Department Statement of Interest explains the conditions under which courts will intervene to protect individual rights of Americans, notwithstanding the general admonition that, "Courts owe substantial deference to government actions, particularly when exercised by states and localities under their police powers during a bona fide emergency."

As explained in my last article, money and surviving the Coronavirus Pandemic are very important "Second Things." According to C.S. Lewis's "Principle of First and Second Things," if a society only focuses on its very important Second Things, like money and survival, in the end that society does not achieve those Second Things and in the process loses its First Things.

In this regard, the spiritual health of Americans is a "First Thing," while physical health, as important as it is, is a mere “Second Thing.” If we focus solely on our physical health, in the end we do not achieve that physical health and in the process we lose our spiritual health.

Plato said essentially the same thing in 360 BC, which is recorded in his treatise on "The Laws." According to Plato, "there are two different kinds of good things, the merely human and the divine; the former are consequential on the latter. Hence a city which accepts the greater goods acquires the lesser along with them, but one which refuses them misses both."

By the Department of Justice reminding the U.S. District Court in Mississippi that, "Courts owe substantial deference to government actions, particularly when exercised by states and localities under their police powers during a bona fide emergency," President Trump, through his attorney general, is focusing on two related American first things: a national government of limited, enumerated powers; and the American form of "The Rule of Subsidiarity" known as Federalism: governmental decisions should be made where those decisions are felt most by the decision-makers.

Both of these American "First Things" are formalized in the final article of our Bill of Rights, the Tenth Amendment, which provides, "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 April 14, 2020, Statement of Interest emphasized that, the U.S. Supreme Court has instructed courts to intervene, "if a statute purporting to have been enacted to protect the public health, the public morals, or the public safety, has no real or substantial relation to those objects, or is, beyond all question, a plain, palpable invasion of rights secured by the fundamental law," quoting and adding emphasis by italicization, the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Jacobson v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905):

"As a result, government can take extraordinary, temporary measures to protect the public. In Jacobson, the Court explained, by way of example, that ‘[a]n American citizen arriving at an American port’ who had traveled to a region with yellow fever ‘may yet, in some circumstances, be held in quarantine against his will’."

On this point, the U.S. Justice Department’s Statement of Interest concludes that if the record before the Court "establishes 'beyond all question, a plain, palpable' violation of the foregoing principles, then a court must grant relief. . . . Courts reviewing a challenge to a measure responding to the 'society-threatening epidemic’ of COVID-19 should be vigilant to protect against clear invasions of constitutional rights while ensuring they do 'not second-guess the wisdom or efficacy of the measures' enacted by the democratic branches of government, on the advice of public health experts."

Amen. Or as we Roman Catholics would say, “Dei Gratia.”

Joseph E. Schmitz served as a foreign policy and national security adviser to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are his personal opinions. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005 and is now Chief Legal Officer of Pacem Solutions International. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.’" Read more reports from Joseph E. Schmitz — Click Here Now.

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In support of Pastor Scott and his congregation, the U.S. Justice Department Statement of Interest explains the conditions under which courts will intervene to protect individual rights of Americans.
federalism, constitution, baptist, greenville
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2020-05-17
Friday, 17 April 2020 03:05 PM
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