You Cannot Shout “Fire!” In A Theatre

The Constitution (not Congress, the President, or the media) created the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court alone has the authority to say what is, and what is not, constitutional.  That core American principle was explained in the Opinion by Chief Justice John Marshall in the case of Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803):

“The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. … The Constitution vests the whole judicial power of the United States in one Supreme Court, and such inferior courts as Congress shall, from time to time, ordain and establish. … It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.”

The Supreme Court alone has the authority to say what is, and what is not, constitutionally protected First Amendment Free Speech.  That core American principle was partially explained by in the Opinion by Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case of Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919):

“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Congressional leaders, the President, and the media also say noone can shout “Fire!” in a theatre.  Yet, they insist that everyone can set fire to a theatre — and to a courthouse, police precinct, and everything else — so long as they set the fire during a mostly peaceful protest that advocates their point of view.  And they insist that everyone can set fire to every institution and neighborhood — so long as it isn’t their institution or neighborhood.

America is on a path away from law, away from civil society.  Disorder and division are a way of life.  Congressional leaders, the President, and the media openly issue threats against the Supreme Court, and loudly call Supreme Court Justices racist and illegitimate.  Politics now is personal agenda, democracy and truth be damned.  “Of the people, by the people, for the people” and “E pluribus unum” are mere memories.

Congress, the President, and the media have set fire to America.  But this is not the first time the fire has been set from within.  America has survived internal fires before, and America can put this fire out too.  May we never forget the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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