Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Constitution and the NYC Mosque

The controversy over the building of a mosque near ground zero has nothing to do with the 1st Constitutional amendment. Here is what the 1st amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

No one is making any law towards the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. No where in the first amendment does it say anything about zoning regulations or building requirements. No one is saying Islam can't be practiced in NYC. In fact no one is saying a mosque can't be built in lower Manhattan. All that is being said is that there is a compelling reason not to allow the building of a mosque overlooking Ground Zero. Governor Patterson is on the right track. The Governor is willing to negotiate a new site for the mosque rather than two blocks from ground zero. The President is wrong there is no right to build a mosque just anywhere. This is not a constitutional issue at all and it is morally wrong.

There is an easy way to avert an impending disaster. In the name of public good the Governor should use his power of eminent domain. The Governor is doing the right thing in negotiating. Patterson now just needs to follow through and go the route of eminent domain as long as the developers are unwilling to negotiate.
Under eminent domain the property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development.

This particular building should taken from the developer and be turned into something of public use. The is a public safety issue for both the followers of Islam who would attend daily prayer in the mosque and also the residents of the city. The president is on the wrong side of this. The Presidents words and actions are inciting violence. There is no doubt that if the developer moves forward and begins building the mosque there will be violence. We wouldn't allow James Earl Ray to be buried next to Martin Luther King Jr. so why should we allow a mosque to be built in the shadow of Ground Zero? Obama is wrong and for a Constitutional Scholar he isn't too smart.

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