The State Journal
As we approach Saturday’s 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we find ourselves in a time when the tenets of the Constitution that came after the Declaration are being called to service on a variety of issues.
Toward the end of June, the nine judges who sit on the bench of the nation’s highest court made decisions that had the liberals in our land taking to the streets in glee while the conservatives were wringing their collective hands in dismay. Surely every living, breathing citizen has an opinion about the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, and likely a more pronounced one on the OK of same-sex marriages.
Wherever we come down on the continuum from liberal to conservative, passing through moderate, we are called to celebrate this brilliance of the framers of the Constitution. They left us a document penned more than two centuries ago that still addresses individual freedoms in terms general enough to leave room for modern societal interpretation.
Those who embrace the right to bear arms have an amendment assuring them of that right, one drafted when militias were the norm. Those who believe marriage is a right for all have a document based on civil liberties and rights — and an amendment that separates church and state. Interpretations of ancient scriptures have no bearing on the civil union of two individuals, the justices concluded.
Across our history we’ve celebrated a spirit of rugged individualism and the rights of the individuals. Whether or not we agree, the Constitution gives individuals the right to bear arms. In the months and years ahead, we expect the solons will be called upon to interpret that right with respect to the rights of those at the other end of the barrels. The issue took center stage again in Charleston, S.C. in June.
The judges concluded, too, it’s the right of individuals to marry whomever they choose — be that individual of the same or opposite sex. Someone’s interpretation of the Bible doesn’t give him or her any standing to say otherwise.
Wherever we stand on specific issues, we must stand together in defending the rights of others, whether we agree with them or not, just as does our Constitution. That spirit is what’s brought America this far and what will keep her strong.
Pause Saturday in the midst of your celebration and be thankful you can disagree with decisions of the Supreme Court or the person next to you at a neighborhood picnic, and go home not having to worry about being dragged off in the middle of the night for your opinions.