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Why Arnold Must Veto AB 523: Protecting Religious Speech

Friday, September 1, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Orange County Reegister reports that AB 523 passed out of the Californai legislature last night.  Here’s how the bill is –accurately– described by the paper:

The Legislature also sent to the governor bills prohibiting the chaining of dogs and the payment of signature gatherers per signature collected; a bill that would make it harder for religious broadcasters to buy the KOCE television station in Huntington Beach; and a bill to split the Department of Health Services into two agencies.

It seems obvious that the California legislature has engaged in a naked bit of religious discrimination, changing the rules relating to the sale of public assets so as to exclude a religious organization.

Imagine if public land was for sale, but the Congress forbade its sale to the highest bidder if that bidder was the Catholic Church.

Or if a local government offered grants to charities housing the poor, but excluded all such charities that were faith based.

The legislated manipulation of the rules relating to the sale of this station should not have to reach a federal court to be rejected.  Arnold should veto the bill quickly, with a message back to the legislature that the First Amendment, both in its religion clauses and speech clause, prohibit the government from discriminating against religious speech.

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