In discussing the First Amendment and its relationship to the psychic world I noted that there is no outright mention of the word “psychic” in the United States Constitution. In fact there is no mention of it anywhere in the Bill of Rights or in the original Declaration of Independence. And, on the face of it, this seems strange since psychic science is often described as a religion, with all the trappings one would associate with such a belief. It therefore might be surprising if we had not noticed the profound connections between religion and the phenomenon of psychic phenomena.
For example, many of our nation’s earliest religions, such as Christianity and Islam, emphasized a strong sense of individual responsibility, which, it was believed, also required a strong communal voice, especially in telling fortunes. These communities provided a means for telling fortunes by casting stones through windows (a form of glassblowing) and other divining methods. At a time when the possibility of seeing an eagle fly over the town square and announce “There’s a new captain at the gate” was considered a godsend, these early religions were on to something.
There are many parallels between this early America and today than so hoc. The most obvious is the widespread practice of reading palms of the hands and watching the rising and setting of the sun. Also, many of our nation’s early laws, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act of 1986, sought to protect consumers from abusive and deceitful practices of financial institutions and collection agencies by requiring that they tell consumers how they would be paid after a certain amount of time. Many states have since adopted similar statutes. Although no official terminology is available, it appears that the First Amendment, like the rest of the U.S. Constitution, protects the right to tell fortunes and the freedom of speech.
As the recent Kelo case in California illustrated, the rights of those who tell fortunes are on firm footing in the courts today. According to the First Amendment, “No person shall be punished for any speech or writing which, when made, may be construed to have been given by any other person.” This includes all forms of communication, including television, radio, books, periodicals, newspapers, and other printed mediums.
The United States Supreme Court has held that it is not cruel and unusual punishment to forbid a suspected wrong doing from ever speaking again, or else to bar him from practicing law. It has repeatedly held that the right of free speech includes the right to be employed by the media to tell their side of any story. In the same vein, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly held that it is not cruel and unusual punishment to prevent a mentally challenged child from being able to tell his or her story of abuse. The U.S. Supreme Court has even stated that the age of 18 is an acceptable limit to consider the maturity of speech. Today, there are probably fewer adults who would support statements that could be considered hateful, derogatory, violent, or insulting.
There are some people that would say that the United States Constitution and the First Amendment are absolute, and cannot be limited in any way. Some people will also say that psychic powers are unenforceable, and therefore any restrictions on speech should be rejected. But if you look at the actual words used in both the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, you will see nothing to support such beliefs. In the United States, the government cannot ban you from speaking; it can only remove you from a position that it deemed dangerous to your welfare. And in the First Amendment, no person, whatever he or she might think, can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. So if someone were to ask you if you believed that psychic abilities were constitutional, I would very carefully answer “no”.