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1999 Ron Paul Chapter 74

H.R. 1691 And Religious Freedom

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15 July 1999

Mrs. MYRICK. Mr. Speaker, I yield 31/2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. PAUL).

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1999 Ron Paul 74:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this rule but in opposition to the bill.

1999 Ron Paul 74:2
Mr. Speaker, as a legislature of enumerated powers, Congress may enact laws only for constitutionally authorized purposes. Despite citing the general welfare and commerce clause, the purpose of H.R. 1691 is obviously to “protect religious liberty.” However, Congress has been granted no power to protect religious liberty. Rather, the first amendment is a limitation on congressional power. The first amendment of the United States Constitution provides that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, yet H.R. 1691 specifically prohibits the free exercise of religion because it authorizes a government to substantially burden a person’s free exercise if the government demonstrates some nondescript, compelling interest to do so.

1999 Ron Paul 74:3
The U.S. Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress and requires Congress to define government policy and select the means by which that policy is to be implemented. Congress, in allowing religious free exercise to be infringed using the least restrictive means whenever government pleads a compelling interest without defining either what constitutes least restrictive or compelling interest delegates, to the courts legislative powers to make these policy choices constitutionally reserved to the elected body.

1999 Ron Paul 74:4
Nowhere does H.R. 1691 purport to enforce the provisions of the fourteenth amendment as applied to the States. Rather, its design imposes a national uniform standard of religious liberty protected beyond that allowed under the United States Constitution, thereby intruding upon the powers of the State to establish their own policies governing protection of religious liberty as preserved under the tenth amendment. The interstate commerce clause was never intended to be used to set such standards for the entire Nation.

1999 Ron Paul 74:5
Admittedly, instances of State government infringement of religious exercise can be found in various forms and in various States, most of which, however, occur in government-operated schools, prisons and so-called government enterprises and as a consequence of Federal Government programs. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to believe that religious liberty will be somehow better protected by enacting national terms of infringement, a national infringement standard which is ill-defined by a Federal legislature and further defined by Federal courts, both of which are remote from those whose rights are likely to be infringed.

1999 Ron Paul 74:6
If one admires the Federal government’s handling of the abortion question, one will have to wait with even greater anticipation to witness the Federal government’s handiwork with respect to religious liberty.

1999 Ron Paul 74:7
To the extent governments continue to expand the breadth and depth of their reach into those functions formally assumed by private entities, governments will continue to be caught in a hopeless paradox where intolerance of religious exercise in government facilities is argued to constitute establishment and, similarly, restrictions of religious exercise constitute infringement.

1999 Ron Paul 74:8
Mr. Speaker, our Nation does not need an unconstitutional Federal standard of religious freedom. We need instead for government, including the courts, to respect its existing constitutional limitations so we can have true religious liberty.
Notes:

1999 Ron Paul 74:2 first amendment probably should be capitalized: First Amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 74:4 fourteenth amendment probably should be capitalized: Fourteenth Amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 74:4 tenth amendment probably should be capitalized: Tenth Amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 74:4 The interstate commerce clause probably should be capitalized: The Interstate Commerce Clause.

1999 Ron Paul 74:7 those functions formally assumed by private entities probably should be those functions formerly assumed by private entities.

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