Given the overwhelming negative response to Robbie Wills’ most recent mailer, you would think that he and his camp would have had the common sense not to continue down that path.
You would be wrong.
Jeff already hit on all the reasons that this line of attack is stupid, but I want to expand on one in particular.
Prayer in school has been categorically banned by the United States Supreme Court for decades. The reason? A pesky little thing called the Establishment Clause. It’s in something called the Constitution, or so I hear. The bill that Wills references, by the way, is House Bill 2971 (2005), entitled “An Act To Prohibit Interference With Student-Led And Student-Initiated Prayers At Public School Functions Within The State Of Arkansas, And For Other Purposes.” That bill allowed, among other things, student-led prayer prior to high school athletic events.
Apparently only the nine representatives who voted against the bill (of which Elliott was a member) were smart enough to realize that student-led prayer prior to high school athletic events had already been held unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U. S. 290 (2000). It doesn’t matter that the bill ignorantly stated that such prayers were “permissible under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;” if anything, that language only serves to underscore how asinine this bill was in the first place, as it was introduced FIVE YEARS after the Supreme Court had already held otherwise.
Similarly, this bill would have allowed student-led and student-initiated prayer at high school graduations and baccalaureate ceremonies. Which is all well and good … until you realize that those, too, had been held unconstitutional by the United State Supreme Court. See Lee v. Weisman, 505 U. S. 577 (1992); see also Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist., 530 U. S. 290.
Wills is essentially trying to attack Joyce Elliott for voting against a bill that was without question unconstitutional and which would have been struck down as such on the first challenge to the law by any group. There is not even any interpretive gray area here; the bill plainly stated that activities which had been ruled unconstitutional were, in fact, constitutional, and then tried to prevent school officials from interfering with the unconstitutional activities. For Robbie Wills — who voted for the ridiculous bill, I might add — to attack Elliott for her vote takes serious chutzpah on his part. And, by “chutzpah,” I mean “hope that people reading the mailer will be too dumb to research the issue at all.”
One final note: in deliciously ironic retrospect, it was Elliott, along with eight other Democrats such as Sam Ledbetter, Rick Saunders and BHR favorite David Johnson, who were casting votes in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. It’s enough to make a Tea Partier’s head explode.