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View Diary: Religious Training for Detainees (25 comments)

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  •  Not a First Amendment Issue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, dogemperor, Neon Mama

    I think it's arguable whether this program raises First Amendment issues.  The courts have held that the First Amendment applies to "state actors," that is, to any legislative or executive agency acting under color of law.  The U.S. military is in Iraq under color of law, the Iraq War Resolution, and is thus a "state actor."  I think you'd agree that, for example, it would be unconstitutional for the U.S. military to prescribe the content of religious teaching for our troops.

    You can argue that yes, the First Amendment applies to U.S. military actions toward our own troops, but not to Iraqis, as they are not U.S. citizens.  But if we're supposedly there trying to teach Iraqis to cherish a constitutional government, does it make sense to imply that only Americans are worthy of constitutional protections against actions by the U.S. military?  Should our military not respect and abide by our Constitution, regardless?

    Again, these are the kinds of thorny issues we buy into when our constitutional republic sets out to have an overseas empire.

    •  The problem is that Congress is funding this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama

      Hence, effectively Congress has "made a law" respecting an establishment of religion.

      I think it's a problem for us to fund religious education - anywhere.

      But then the whole war is a problem, so this shouldn't have even happened.

      We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

      by CA Libertarian on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 05:34:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Funding isn't (entirely) the issue (0+ / 0-)

        The Establishment Clause can be and often is relevant, even where a sponsored religious program spends no money (e.g.: school prayer).  The legal threshhold is whether a state actor - a government employee acting under color of law - is sponsoring the religious activity.

        Even if the moderate Iraqi imams are volunteers, they're admitted and provided facilities in the detention center by U.S. government employees (the military officials operating those facilities) acting under color of law.  Thus, if we assume the Constitution applies in that setting at all, then both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses would be applicable.

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