On January 9, 2013 the Huffington Post ran a column by Geoffrey R. Stone on the Second Amendment. Stone is currently the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.
In 2008, I wrote an extended paper (Historical Revisionism) on Professor Stone’s misunderstanding of the First Amendment as it relates to America’s religious history. Someone unfamiliar with America’s religious history would more than likely find a law professor’s arguments persuasive. His current article on the Second Amendment is equally not persuasive. In fact, I found it muddled.
But let’s take up the good professor’s argument as he takes full advantage of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment. Here’s some of what Professor Stone wrote:
“Consider, for example, the First Amendment, which provides: ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.’ This also sounds absolute. But does the First Amendment mean that the government cannot constitutionally regulate speech?
“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes put that possibility to rest in 1919 with a famous hypothetical. ‘The most stringent protection of free speech,’ he observed, ‘would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.’ In other words, even though the text of the First Amendment sounds absolute, it is not.”
It’s important to note that the First Amendment does not create the right of the “free exercise” of “religion” or the right to speak, write (press), and assemble, even to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” These are God-given rights, or as secularists like to say, “natural rights.” These rights are not to be infringed upon by government: “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].”