Opinion piece by USA Today
Each Chillicothe Gazette Opinion page includes the following in the heading:
“The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”
While the Constitution only address these rights as they apply to the Federal Government, they typically are thought to be rights that apply regarding local and state governments too. So it is interesting that USA Today would make the following statements in their opinion piece:
“… the banning of large indoor gatherings are not assaults on freedom, …”
“Those who flout restrictions on gatherings – for … worship services, political rallies or anything else – are only putting themselves and others at risk.”
It is hard to see how putting in place banning large indoor gatherings isn’t denying the right of people to peacefully assemble. And restriction on worship services is certainly prohibiting the free exercise of religion. So how does USA Today not see them as assaults on freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment?
If state and local governments are allowed to assault those basic first amendment rights, does that mean a state or local government can restrict what the Chillicothe Gazette or USA Today can print in its newspaper? Or if they were to find what is in their papers to be alarming or threatening, can they ban the Chillicothe or USA Today from publishing their paper in the government’s domain? I expect that USA Today would see that as a major violation of the their first amendment rights.
Why can’t they see that restricting worship services and the right to assemble in whatever number people chose aren’t also first amendment rights violations?
I suspect it has more to do with politics than principles!