Ten years ago, the GOP would never have stood for the attacks on a congregation trying to build a new house of worship. Both houses passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act unanimously and a slightly different bill that the House had passed earlier in the 106th Congress had 199 Republicans voting for and only 20 voting against the bill.
So, as loudly as the Republicans and craven Democrats rant about the community center that includes a mosque that will be near where the World Trade Center towers used to be, it's important to remind them that they supported the law that stops New York from doing anything special to keep this mosque from being built.
Here is the applicable portion of the bill (S 2869 of the 106th Congress):
SEC. 2. PROTECTION OF LAND USE AS RELIGIOUS EXERCISE.
(a) SUBSTANTIAL BURDENS.—
(1) GENERAL RULE.—No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly, or institution—
(A) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
(B) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
(2) SCOPE OF APPLICATION.—This subsection applies in any case in which—
(A) the substantial burden is imposed in a program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability;
(B) the substantial burden affects, or removal of that substantial burden would affect, commerce with foreign nations, among the several States, or with Indian tribes, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability; or
(C) the substantial burden is imposed in the implementation of a land use regulation or system of land use regulations, under which a government makes, or has in place formal or informal procedures or practices that permit the government to make, individualized assessments of the proposed uses for the property involved.
(b) DISCRIMINATION AND EXCLUSION.—
(1) EQUAL TERMS.—No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that treats a religious assembly or institution on less than equal terms with a nonreligious assembly or institution.
(2) NONDISCRIMINATION.—No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that discriminates against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.
(3) EXCLUSIONS AND LIMITS.—No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation that—
(A) totally excludes religious assemblies from a jurisdiction; or
(B) unreasonably limits religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.
Well, the process went through. The community center was approved. The city had no valid reason to disapprove the center. Republicans know that. Why have they started to complain after the fact? Why have they forgotten that they supported the law that would have made it impossible for New York to stop this even if it had wanted?
There is nothing sacred about any of the ground here. The new buildings are towers to mammon, just as the old ones were. Al Qaeda does not run Islam and those who attack the construction of mosques anywhere in this country are both restricted by law and by the constitution in their desires.
We can always guess, but it seems to be nothing but the expediency of electoral politics. If you know a Republican who is attacking the new community center and New York's decision to approve it, ask him if he wants the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act repealed and wants to restrict the First Amendment. Ask if he wants the First Amendment to be completely destroyed.