National Catholic Register

Opinion

Law and Consequences

Editorial

BY Jim Cosgrove

June 20-26, 1999 Issue | Posted 6/20/99 at 1:00 PM

 

The U.S. Senate has voted to go on record saying it is constitutional to erect religious memorials for students slain at public schools.

This is an excellent point for the Senate to make. Constitutionality was never intended to be at the sole discretion of the judiciary. The Supreme Court has never been an infallible guardian of what is right and wrong. It wasn't right when it ruled against freedom for Dred Scott, or when it ruled out child labor laws, or when it stopped civil rights laws early in this century. And it isn't right on many issues today.

The next step will be for our representatives in Congress to do what Congresses of old did when faced with those other issues. They must challenge the court by actually making the laws that so many of their constituents want, and passing those laws again and again, if necessary. More than the right, they have the duty to reclaim the ground that has been lost to a mistaken notion of what the Constitution allows.

A bill allowing communities to restore the Ten Commandments to public buildings would be a good place to start.