Letter to the editor: Editorial’s arguments against Measure 3 not trueI was very disappointed when I read The Jamestown Sun editorial favor a “no” vote on Measure 3. The arguments that were made were the same as those we have heard on the commercials. Those arguments are simply not true.
By: Kirk Ripplinger, Jamestown, The Jamestown Sun
I was very disappointed when I read The Jamestown Sun editorial favor a “no” vote on Measure 3. The arguments that were made were the same as those we have heard on the commercials. Those arguments are simply not true.
What Measure 3 will not do:
Measure 3 will not allow an individual, church or institution to violate laws already in place. The laws that we hear that are supposedly in jeopardy are child abuse, spousal abuse and polygamy. Measure 3 will not put these in jeopardy because it cannot do so. The language in Measure 3 clearly states that laws will be enforced when the government has a “compelling interest” in enforcing said laws. To come to the conclusion that these are in jeopardy one must assume that the government does not have a compelling interest in enforcing these laws. That is absurd.
Measure 3 will not burden the court system. Twenty-seven other states have laws with the same language, in those 27 states a total of 12 cases have been brought to court. That is an average of .44 cases per year. Now, apply that average to a single state and it amounts to a new court case about every 15 months. If a single case every 15 months is a burden to the court system in the state of North Dakota, we have other issues that we need to address.
What Measure 3 will do:
Measure 3 will shift the burden of proof back to the government. The amendment will restore standards for when the government could make mandates counter to individuals’ religious beliefs that existed before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Employment Division v. Smith in 1990. The ruling allowed religious exercises to be protected by the First Amendment only when laws or regulations specifically targeted religion. This ruling shifted the burden of proof onto the individual.
When people make the claim that we don’t need this amendment in “conservative” North Dakota, or as The Sun editorial stated that in North Dakota nobody’s religious rights are being infringed, I hear “I don’t need to get an oil change, my engine is running fine.” Do we really want to wait until it happens before we take action? If one does not do the required preventative maintenance, one must be prepared to do the corrective maintenance when the time comes. And as most of us have probably learned corrective maintenance is always more costly, time consuming and sometimes flat out impossible.
So vote “yes” on Measure 3, not necessarily because your religious rights are being infringed upon at this time but to prevent your religious rights from being infringed upon in the future.