Law & Principles

Michael Carnuccio | October 9, 2015

Free Market Friday: Solving the Blaine problem

Michael Carnuccio

Ideas have consequences, as we say in the think-tank business, and in the last 22 years the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has seen many of its ideas become law.

So while we exist to provide public policy solutions for Oklahoma, on Tuesday we provided a solution in an altogether different way, as our campus became the temporary home for Oklahoma’s much-discussed Ten Commandments monument.

I say “temporary” because I believe the monument will eventually make the 10-block trek north again. I believe the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong when it said putting the monument on public property is unconstitutional. As my colleague Trent England says, “perhaps the best illustration of the absurdity of the court’s ruling is that it would seem to render illegal the public display of the Oklahoma Constitution’s own preamble.”

After all, our state constitution begins with the words: “Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty.” Are we to believe that the constitution itself is unconstitutional?

If judges continue to indulge those “who wish to purge religious institutions from our public life,” Oklahoma City law professor Andrew Spiropoulos stated in this publication, “the people may have to use their sovereign authority to restore civic equality.”

That means repealing the Blaine Amendment. Doing so would not only allow my colleagues and I to return the monument to the state Capitol grounds, it would also, as England notes, protect our state’s most vulnerable. The Blaine Amendment directly threatens the hundreds of millions of state and federal dollars being spent at nonprofit religious hospitals, child care centers, and schools for special-needs children.

Today, the focus is on the monument. Tomorrow, the focus could be on Oklahoma hospitals not able to treat patients or a child care center not able to serve families of need. I, for one, am not willing to play chicken with the most vulnerable of families in our state. Our government should first and foremost protect the rights of its citizens, which should include empowering them to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams in an environment of opportunity, not the bigotry that is the Blaine Amendment.

Let’s hope a monument temporarily sitting on the northwest corner of 13th and Lincoln can remind us of that.

Michael Carnuccio

Former OCPA President

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