The Bill of Rights is aimed only to protect the obnoxious, a federal court judge said at a bicentennial celebration of the Bill of Rights Friday afternoon at the Utah State Bar Law and Justice Center.
A panel discussion, moderated by syndicated Washington columnist Jack Anderson, addressed questions and concerns in relation to the Bill of Rights. The members of the panel fielding the questions asked by Anderson and members of the audience were Dee Benson, U.S. attorney for Utah, Judge Judith Billings, Utah Court of Appeals, Professor Michael Gerhardt, College of William and Mary, President Rex Lee, Brigham Young University and former solicitor general of the United States, and Judge Monroe McKay, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.After a brief history of the Bill of Rights, Anderson asked questions like "Are we getting too legal, too technical in our society? The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the people from the government. Is the Supreme Court starting to protect the government from the people?" and "The founding fathers intended that public schools should promote religion, morality and knowledge. Has the Supreme Court robbed us of that morality by doing away with school prayer?"
Responding to the question of being too legal and too technical, Benson said, "I suppose we have. As Americans, if we're recognized for anything at all, besides loud sports coats and speaking too loud, its probably a recognition of our rights."
The panel offered a variety of views on the role of the courts to protect the rights and freedoms of the individual, and the way the Bill of Rights should be or is being interpreted in the courts today.