September 9, 2003

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

That’s from the 14th Amendment, section 1… And its what has been taken to mean that the 1st Amendment applies to states… I can almost see that… almost.

The issue is that the first amendment doesn’t provide privileges or immunities regarding religion, speech, etc from any laws which the states might create…

So what privileges and immunities is it talking about? The right to keep and bear arms… the right to not have a soldier quartered in your home during peacetime… the right against unreasonable search and seizure… the right against self-incrimination… speedy and public trial by an impartial jury and the right to confront the accuser… the right against excessive bail, fines, or cruel and unusual punishment…

Those are all rights and privileges which are expressly granted to citizens of the US… But the first amendment clearly applies only to CONGRESS. They don’t apply to the president, because the president can’t make law… They don’t apply to the supreme court, because the court can’t — well, isn’t supposed to make law… And it doesn’t apply to the states or the people, because it doesn’t say that it applies.

Many states have adopted the US Constitution as their own, so they have passed the protection of the first amendment on to their residents… but that protection exists because that’s what the people and the states decided, not because it was required by the US Constitution.

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