I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read some opponent of the project insist that First Amendment protections don’t apply – perhaps because they believe that either the project sponsors or the people who would worship there are so particularly venal as to be outside the ambit of the Constitution.
The gloves come off, it appears, when dealing with the devil.
Seems to be particularly unfortunate, as a memorable exchange from “A Man For All Seasons” points out:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
The benefit of the law, here the First Amendment protects us all. Of course, as has been pointed out, the above exchange represents a rather modernized Sir Thomas. His First Amendment jurisprudence would have looked very different from our own: