Joseph Riggs (
Wed, 13 Sep 2000 18:45:53 -0700


> To my limited knowledge of this topic, technically there's nothing
> restricting the US government from taking away violent video games, books,
> records, tapes, etc. We have the right to publish it. That doesn't give us
> the right to own or sell it. I believe that such a right is implied, but
> thanks to a sudden upheaval of literalists taking over the government and
> media in general, it doesn't matter what is implied. We have the right to
> bear arms. Nowhere does it say that we have the right to shoot them,
> though. No laws can be made by the state governing the church. If I
> remember correctly, there is no "Separation of Church and State" mentioned
> in the constitution, and there is no mention of the church being unable to
> effect the state, which would be a direct contradiction of the former
> statement, of course. I thought I'd spill my thoughts out on this subject,
> just because you got me thinking about it, Chris. Anyone want to find a
> copy of the Constitution and verify my supposition? I'm too busy myself.

Working off of memory here...
The opinions of the court, while not explicitly stating this, pretty much hold
that owning a published product is just as much a part of free speech as
publishing that same product. Thus, if the government cannot legally prevent
you from publishing an item, they cannot legally prohibit you from owning it.
One thing that you need to remember is that even amongst lawyers, there is often
a desire to find the intent of a section of law. If the law in question
directly contradicts the "original intent" of the drafters of that law, then the
writing will stand. But if the law is poorly worded, then judges sometimes have
to rely partially on what the drafters intended (common sense is included here).

Also, part of the reason that there are literalists in law is that is what
judging is supposed to be all about. The opinions of the judge should be kept
to a minimum where possible. Yes, sometimes injustices occur. But it is the
responsibility of the judge to judge. It is the responsibility of the
legislature to draft laws, and when judges start to interpret laws in a fashion
that goes beyond the scope of the law (and they often do so for the best of
reasons), then the law loses some of its power. What's the point of drafting a
carefully written law if a judge can ignore the fine print, and decide that it
means whatever he or she pleases? While I was in law school, I read more than
one case where the presiding judge decided in one party's favor because the
judge basically added a section or two to the law. The law only provided for
'x', but it was similar to 'y', which was explicitly not mentioned. The judge
decided that it was really a shame that this was the case, and so decided that
'y' was included in the law. The reaction of my professors? They thought that
the judge was a real nice guy, but he was going about it in the wrong way. In
my own opinion, this was a big problem in the Warren court.
As far as religion goes, you are correct, the Consititution says nothing about
seperation of church and state. If I remember correctly, it says that you have
a freedom to worship as you please, and also that there will never be a state
religion. The Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean seperation of church
and state (which, considering some of the things I've seen happen, is clearly
not the original intent).


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