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It seems that many people complaining about losing rights do not understand the rights granted by the Constitution.

“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.”

In Reynolds v. United States (1878) the Supreme Court stated that "Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order.” Laws cannot interfere with religious belief and opinions, however laws can regulate religious practices. The right to have religious beliefs is absolute, but the freedom to act on such beliefs is not.

One is free to believe in human sacrifice, but one cannot practice it. In Employment Division v. Smith (1990) the court stated that no compelling interest was required regarding a neutral law that affects a religious practice. “Stay-at-home” orders are neutral. One is free to believe one should go to church every week, but the states can tell everyone to stay at home with those beliefs.

In United States v. Cruikshank (1875), the court held that, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble for the purpose of petitioning Congress for a redress of grievances…” is guaranteed, but the court ruled that, “The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in subordination to…, and in consonance with peace and good order…” Hague v. CIO (1930) Threatening others and infecting them with disease is not good order.

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William Steadman

Bozeman