Argument: First amendment protects right to build ground zero mosque
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in August of 2010 at the height of the ground zero mosque debate: "The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution."
Joe Conason. "Defending the Mosque." The New York Observer. August 3, 2010: "The impulse to violate the First Amendment rights of Muslims-as Muslims!-is so blatantly wrong and so radical, in the worst sense, that it almost defies outrage. Until now, nobody in a position of responsibility has sought to deny basic religious liberty to any group whose practices did not somehow trespass the law. Despite disagreements around the borders of religious freedom, the nation shared a consensus in favor of the concept-for everyone, with no exceptions. It is a consensus that dates back to the first days following the Revolution, when George Washington wrote to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, guaranteeing the new republic's commitment to universal tolerance. The first president explained in that historic letter why that guarantee could only be categorical and indivisible: 'All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts.' In short, the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, to those of any faith or no faith, belongs to all the people. Liberty is not bestowed on Muslims or Hindus or Jews by Christians, and cannot be rescinded from any group by another. Certainly, it is not subject to revocation by any seedy demagogue."