Don't silence spirituality

Judge's ruling on graduation prayer was miles off the mark

Normally it would be folly to suggest an officeholder be drummed out on his stump for making a bad decision.

We might make an exception for this guy.

Texas federal Judge Fred Biery ruled last week that students at Medina Valley High School's graduation last Saturday couldn't even say the words "prayer" or "amen." An agnostic family had sued, fearing that valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand would share her well-known spiritual side in her address.

The family said it would have done their little baby irreparable harm to hear it.

To begin with, it's reprehensible enough that anyone would try to use the fearsome powers of the federal government as a cudgel to silence a classmate ahead of time. It's one of the most intolerant actions we've ever heard of in these United States.

Certain lawyers have created a false impression throughout the land that the Constitution gives one the right to be free from religion. Sorry, that right doesn't exist. You cannot use the government to silence your neighbor because his or her expressions of spirituality offend you.

But for a judge to say that you can, and to issue an order of prior restraint restricting an American's free speech? That's infinitely worse. To us, that seems an impeachable offense.

It speaks volumes that his ruling's unconstitutionality was such a no-brainer that the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed Biery's decision out with the trash within hours and allowed the graduation to proceed unfettered by his tyrannical poppycock.

Federal judges are sworn to uphold the Constitution. This one clearly did not.

"The reality is, the judge's order. not a prayer Angela might offer in her speech, violated the First Amendment," writes Washington Examiner legal contributor Ken Klukowski -- who goes on to note the perversity of a system that would allow the vilest sort of video games but not a student's voluntary prayer.

"So ironically," he adds, "there is a First Amendment violation here. But it comes from stopping Angela's prayer, not from allowing it."

We would also argue that the First Amendment precludes the government from "prohibiting the free exercise" of religion. A voluntary prayer at a graduation is the free exercise of one's religious views.

These are the most basic rights we have under the Constitution -- rights that our Founders not only acknowledged in their words and deeds, but who believed that such rights flowed from God, not from federal judges.

Again, we would usually caution against removing public officials for making bad decisions. But this one was so beyond the pale and the Constitution that it makes you wonder if there should be an exception.

As for the attempt by one family to use the government to silence another: The family was represented by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Separation of church and state? We're for it in this case! Stop trying to use the state as a bludgeon to silence the spiritual!

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