The stalwarts on the political right for years have been the ones to wave the U.S. Constitution in the faces of progressives, claiming that they have ventured beyond it and threaten its very existence.
Such assaults earnestly commenced during the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he sought to implement New Deal programs. The American Liberty League, consisting of the most conservative elements of the corporate community, railed against programs such as Social Security as socialistic and unconstitutional.
Presidential candidate Senator John F. Kennedy recognized that he was facing the same forces that had vigorously opposed Roosevelt on Social Security as he advocated Medicare during his successful 1960 presidential campaign. Kennedy repeatedly noted that 90 percent of congressional Republicans in the mid-thirties opposed Roosevelt as he advocated Social Security and that same number opposed Medicare.
Opponents of these programs maintained that because measures such as those seeking to be implemented were not clearly spelled out in the U.S. Constitution either in its original form or through amendments that they were unconstitutional on their face.
They failed to recognize or acknowledge the key constitutional element of implied powers, even though the doctrine was enunciated way back in 1803 by the longest serving chief justice in U.S. history, John Marshall, in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison.
Where do these self-described constitutional stalwarts stand, on the other hand, on the basic First Amendment liberty regarding freedom of worship? This is a liberty not implied but very specific.
In New York City we currently have a bellwether case where that basic First Amendment liberty is being assaulted. Who is doing a large measure of assaulting? Who has emerged as the most vocal opponent of an imam seeking to build a mosque and community center in the area near Ground Zero of 9/11?
These are the same forces who have been so vigilant in opposing necessary breakthrough social measures such as Social Security, Medicare, federal regulation, civil rights, and minimum wage legislation. They now zealously seek to achieve narrow conformity on behalf of the religious right lobby zealously to prevent someone who dares to interpret God in a manner they oppose from building a place of worship and community center on property owned by the organization he represents.
The movement opposing the construction of the mosque and center has drawn the most vociferous voices of demagoguery and hate from both the religious and political spheres.
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