The Supreme Court Delivers Another Victory for the Founders’ Vision of Religious Liberty

The Supreme Court’s most recent term has produced a series of important rulings protecting religious freedom, most recently in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru. Howard Slugh explains:

In Morrissey-Berru, the Court reaffirmed that the First Amendment ensures that religious institutions may decide “free from state interference, matters of church government as well as . . . doctrine.” As the majority opinion noted, this concerned the Founders because, prior to the American Revolution, Britain used its authority to dictate who could serve as religious functionaries in the colonies. For example, in 1771, the British ordered New York to only accept schoolmasters licensed by the bishop of London.

The Supreme Court [thus] determined that, in order to avoid that sort of abuse, the First Amendment prohibited the government from interfering in religious organizations’ decisions regarding their hiring and firing of religious officials. . . . Critics [of the ruling] may concede that, while avoiding such meddling was important in the 1700s and 1800s, it is no longer necessary today. They would claim that the government no longer seeks to control religious doctrine, and therefore the Court can allow some level of government intrusion into internal religious affairs.

The critics are incorrect for two main reasons. First, that is simply not how law works. Even if the concerns that motivated the First Amendment passed, the Court cannot unilaterally weaken the First Amendment’s protections. Only Congress and the American people, acting through the proper procedures, can amend the Constitution. Second, the critics are also wrong about the facts; government entities in the United States still threaten to impose their religious orthodoxy on dissenting groups. The protections of the First Amendment remain as necessary now as they ever were in the past.

In . . . 2014, the city of Houston issued a subpoena demanding religious leaders’ sermons relating to “homosexuality” or “gender identity.” The city eventually relented, and the subpoenas’ purpose is disputed, but their breadth and intrusiveness remain chilling. Over the last century, the government has expanded to the point where it now touches nearly every area in American life. As the reach of the state has grown, so has its capacity to impose its views on religious dissenters.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: American founders, First Amendment, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas