No elevated freedom
In recent days and weeks there have been some who seem to be excessively indulgent of the freedom of religion.
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
“Respecting” by its very definition is to show differential regard or esteem. In other words no law shall show differential regard or esteem for an establishment of religion. No where does the first amendment say that an establishment of religion shall have special elevated freedoms.
The ninth amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others…” “Disparage” is to reduce in esteem or rank. It follows that the first amendment freedom to exercise the belief in a religion can be no higher than any other Constitutional freedom. This amendment clearly prohibits an establishment of religion from having special elevated rights.
If local planning commissions, with just cause, can restrict where businesses can or cannot locate their facilities then an establishment of religion can likewise be held to those same restrictions.
It is the responsibility and right of New York City planners to determine if locating a Muslim facility, including a Muslim worship center, within a few blocks of the World Trade Center ground zero is in the best interest of the American people.
However, they should not base or excuse their decision on or with a misinterpretation of the first amendment. No religious establishment has an absolute or even elevated Constitutional right to locate facilities anywhere they choose.