The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The people’s power, as given by the Constitution

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According to her Nov. 14 Outlook essay, “What Barrett’s rise meant for the Supreme Court,” Julie Cohen seems to think the First Amendment says something other than what it states.

In reviewing Linda Greenhouse’s book “Justice on the Brink,” Ms. Cohen wrote that “Greenhouse shows how the court may be creeping toward the outcome sought by the Becket Fund and others on the religious right: turning the free exercise clause into a shield protecting believers from government interference.”

That is the First Amendment. Period. But what is the court turning from? Ms. Cohen implied that religious conservatives are off-base when she accurately paraphrased the meaning of the first protection listed in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” 

The first 10 amendments are meant to restrain the government from abusing people’s rights, making it the duty of officials to put citizens first. The 10th Amendment makes it very clear: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

And by the way, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was named for Saint Thomas of Canterbury, whose murder was instigated by King Henry II, who viewed the cleric as an enemy.

Carl Eifert, Alexandria