The Epoch Times on July 19 held a panel discussion among leading experts on the U.S. Constitution and constitutional rights defenders, kicking off the first major event of its “Defending America” initiative.
Titled “Defending the Constitution: Why It Matters Now More Than Ever,” the panel focused on events exposing that Americans’ constitutional rights are under threat, and the Americans who took actions to defend those rights.
In his opening remarks, The Epoch Times’ publisher Stephen Gregory called the Constitution a “citadel for America’s greatness” which America’s enemies seek to undermine in their attempt to transform the country.
“That is why we begin our discussion of Defending America with the topic of the Constitution,” said Gregory, noting the difference between socialism, which encourages atheism, envy, and fear among citizens, and dependence on an all-supervising government; and the United States, where individual genius and worship of God flourish under the Constitution.
“Americans need to remember why their nation is great. They need to understand and feel the basic goodness of the United States,” he said.
The first speaker was Alan Dershowitz, a retired Harvard Law School professor who was part of President Donald Trump’s legal team during his first Senate impeachment trial. He said the First Amendment, which was designed to keep the marketplace of ideas open to diverse views, is now being used to do the opposite.
“Today, the First Amendment is being used as a sword by Big Tech, by universities, and by some progressives to constrain free speech,” said Dershowitz, who called Trump’s ongoing class-action lawsuits against tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google a “very interesting case.”
“We shouldn’t be allowing allegiances to determine what we read, what we see, and what we hear,” he said. “I’m very worried about the high-tech approach. And that’s why President Trump’s lawsuit is such an important one.”
Another speaker, Rob Natelson, examined five reasons why the Constitution deserves defending. According to Natelson, a leading constitutional scholar whose work has been repeatedly cited in the U.S. Supreme Court cases, the Constitution has enabled long-lasting peace among the American states, ensured unprecedented human progress by limiting the authority of the central government, provided additional support for freedom, balanced interests with compromises and accommodations, and included the flexibility necessary for responding to structural problems.
Speaking of the fourth reason, Natelson highlighted one of the key compromises involving the role of religion in government. The Constitution’s framers, according to Natelson, could have adopted either a “Godless constitution” like the one created later by the French revolutionaries, or a constitution that was religiously tolerant but “distinctively Christian.” The debate resulted in a compromise that bans religious tests for holding office, but instead requires an oath under God.
“The compromise thereby accommodating the belief that good citizenship should include recognition of a higher power—the higher power was not specifically the God of any particular religion, but the God of all,” said Natelson. “For the first time ever, Americans of all faiths would be first-class citizens, fully able to participate in government with full freedom of religion.”
Also featured in the discussion and Q&A sessions were Che Ahn, a California pastor who led and won a legal battle against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s gathering restrictions on churches; Rex Steninger, commissioner of Nevada’s Elko County, which vowed to protect the Bill of Rights regardless of the federal government’s actions; Kevin Roberts, CEO of conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation; and Timothy Barton, president of Wallbuilders, an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes.
As part of the “Defending America” initiative, The Epoch Times will be focusing on a critical issue every month and providing more content suitable for sharing. In the coming months, there will be events and programs on censorship, the integrity of elections, and the threat of socialism.