Thursday, November 03, 2005

Good Ol' Bill

Bill O'Reilly's historical revisionism strikes again. Media Matters has the scoop.
From the November 1 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: By the way, if Alito is confirmed, that will be a good thing for conservatives. That's the bottom line. Because Alito will take a more traditional view than a [Supreme Court justices Stephen G.] Breyer or a [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. OK? He'll look at things, and he'll say, "You know, the Founding Fathers didn't want partial-birth abortion. The Founding Fathers didn't want all mention of Christmas stricken from the public arena." That's what Alito will do. He's a traditionalist He's going to rule that way.

According to, celebration of Christmas in America prior to the Revolution depended largely on where one lived. In Jamestown, Virginia, one could celebrate the holiday freely. In Boston, celebration of Christmas incurred a fine of five shillings. Following the Revolution, Christmas was eschewed as "English customs fell out of favor." noted that "Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America's new Constitution." The holiday remained unpopular for years, and Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

That being said, I actually don't know that this particular ruling by Alito upholding a creche because frosty the snowman and a couple of other secular figures were also on public display is particularly off the mark. My understanding of the case would lead me to say that the town may not have diversified the display enough, but the rationale behind the decision here is valid even if a bit too narrow. Mostly I just enjoy Mr. O'Reilly's outrageous revisions of history. He outlines Ginsberg and Breyer, but certainly in Breyer's case (as evidenced by the recent 10 commandments cases in Texas and Kentucky) his position would only be a matter of degree from Alito's, as Breyer drew the line at precisely the point I draw the line. While I'm at it I may as well point out to Mr. O'Reilly that there is no way the founders could have conceived of abortion in its modern form in any way. This "founders intent" argument is lunacy, you want to argue founders intent? All right, let's argue founders intent.

It was clearly the founders intent that the Constitution would not be some imobile document set in stone, they provided for an amendment process for the changing of the document itself, as well as inserting an odd, little used amendment into the bill of rights. I refer here to the 9th amendment, stating essentially that the people have rights not specifically outlined in the Constitution. The 9th is so vague as to provide no clues as to what should be considered a valid unenumerated right, but it nonetheless proves that the founders actually felt that new situations reaching beyond the scope of their document would arise, and that they put the 9th into the bill of rights in order to ensure that some idiot doesn't come along and say that the only rights that exist are those specifically listed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th amendments.

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