MRFF Advisory Board Member John M. Compere’s (Judge and Brigadier General, US Army, Retired) – “OUR FIRST TWO CONSTITUTION AMENDMENTS”


The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. Our Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, was ratified on December 15, 1791.

The 1st & 2nd Amendments were first and second priority of our Founders. The 1st Amendment provides our historic trinity of religious liberties (freedom from public religion, freedom of private religion, and freedom of religious speech) and other speech or press, and the right to assemble and petition. The 2nd Amendment provides our right to keep and bear arms (individually and collectively).

The US Supreme Court has the exclusive authority to interpret the Constitution (Article III) and has done so with respect to the 1st and 2nd Amendments based upon their language, and historic intent as confirmed by public records. That is our American judicial tradition of constitutional construction. No law, past or present, limits the Court’s interpretation to literal language.

Our Supreme Court established a 3 part test for determining if a government action complies with 1st Amendment separation of religion and government : (1) it must have a secular purpose; (2) it cannot advance or inhibit religion; and (3) there must be no entanglement between government and religion. If these constitutional requirements are met, the action conforms to 1st Amendment separation of church and state, and is lawful. If all are not met, the action is unconstitutional and unlawful. Lemon vs Kurtzman, 91 Supreme Court 2105 (1971).

It is revealing that opponents of our constitutional right to separation of church and state never refer to this landmark American case nor reference its citation for reader review.

The 1st Amendment’s language was primarily relied upon with its historic purpose acknowledged. The government shall make no law “respecting” a religion, “prohibiting” its free exercise or “abridging” speech and press freedom or the right to assemble and petition. The Founders’ intent to make our government the first in history to constitutionally separate public government from private religion is indisputably documented in countless historic records and was in response to centuries of civil conflict and human harm in Europe when governments and religion were combined and co-dependent.

The unsuccessful position of those opposing our constitutional separation of government and religion misconstrue the first clause to mean only a national religion cannot be established. However, that is not what it expressly provides. The first clause states “respecting” (not establishing)“an establishment of religion” (not a national religion). Moreover, freedom from public religion is its recorded historic intent affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

Our Supreme Court held the 2nd Amendment protects the individual right to posses a firearm for traditional lawful purposes unconnected to service in a militia. District of Columbia vs Heller, 554 United States 570 (2008).

It is revealing that opponents of our constitutional right to individually keep and bear arms never refer to this landmark American case nor reference its citation for reader review.

The 2nd Amendment’s documented historic intent was relied upon and its literal language not strictly construed. The “individual” right to keep and bear arms is not contained in the 2nd Amendment. A literal interpretation would limit the right to keep and bears arms to “people” (a plural noun) in connection with a “well regulated Militia” (secured in a government armory – not individual possession).

The unsuccessful position of those opposing our individual right would literally interpret it to prevent the individual right to keep and bear arms and limit the right to collectively in a government regulated militia because that is what the 2nd Amendment expressly provides.

An amusing situation arises when unqualified commentators oppose constitutional separation of government and religion because the 1st Amendment does not literally state “separation of church and state”, but then completely contradict themselves by supporting the individual right to keep and bear arms when the 2nd Amendment does not literally state “individual”. They cannot have it both ways without a self-inflicted credibility wound. Mark Twain’s wisdom comes to mind: “In matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above a monkey’s.”

Patriotic adults who respect and wish to know about our American Constitution can do so by reading and researching it along with the cornerstone cases cited above. The concocted and confusing claims of those who do not can be rejected. 

“The Constitution is a guide which I will never abandon.” – GEORGE WASHINGTON

“Educate and inform the whole mass of people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” – THOMAS JEFFERSON

Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained for it is the only safeguard for our liberties.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN


John Compere

Brigadier General, US Army (retired), Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam), MRFF Advisory Board Member, retired US judge, retired trial lawyer and Texas rancher.

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