If you could build a town from scratch, what would it look like? Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino‘s Pizza, wants a towering Roman Catholic Church at the center of his proposed new town. He also prefers people who have the same religious beliefs as he does. He wants them to move into his aptly named Ave Maria, Florida.
There‘s one group standing in the way of Monaghan‘s lifelong dream, the American Civil Liberties Union, of course. Howard Simon is the executive director of Florida‘s ACLU. He joined Tucker Carlson from Miami.
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, 'THE SITUATION: Now why is it your business what kind of town Tom Monaghan builds? I mean, you may or may not be Catholic. I‘m not Catholic, but I think Tom Monaghan should have the right to build any kind of town he wants that conforms to any kind of beliefs he has. It‘s—I don‘t understand why it‘s your business?
HOWARD SIMON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FLORIDA ACLU: I completely agree. If he wants to build a town and encourage like minded people to come and live there, that‘s fine. We get into problems where he tries to exercise governmental authority. That‘s the issue.
It‘s not—Tucker, you‘ve to make a distinction between just encouraging like minded people to come and live in the same place with a town organized on religious principles, in which the religious group is given governmental authority. It‘s that latter that is the problem. And I must say, just...
CARLSON: If that bothers you, I suggest you take a trip to rural Utah, where it‘s the rule, rather than the exception. But I don‘t understand where you get the idea he‘s trying to exercise governmental authority. My understanding is you‘re upset because he wants to bring in a pharmacy that does not sell contraception. Why do you care?
SIMON: Well, that‘s he‘s saying now, after having gotten some legal advice. About a year ago he made a speech saying that “I own all the commercial real estate. You‘re not going to be able to buy a ‘playboy.‘ We‘re going to control the kind of cable TV that comes in. You‘re going to be able to get contraception, the pills, condoms at your local pharmacy. You will not be able to purchase any of those services in this town.
CARLSON: Howard, I hate to blow your mind, but that‘s called zoning, and it‘s everywhere. Every town determines what cable system it has. Every town. Your town, my town. The town decides what cable system you have.
Moreover, the town decides whether you can sell pornography in the stores or not. There are rules in every town about not. Moreover, they have zoning about what kind of stores you can have. It‘s everywhere. You just don‘t like this, because this is a serious Catholic guy. I mean, that‘s the truth, isn‘t it?
SIMON: Tucker, before you jump to the quick and not very well informed conclusion that that is just anti-Catholicism, I want to tell you that it was about 10 years ago when the United States Supreme Court correctly ruled that a group of Hasidic Jews in upper New York state, in a town called Kiryas Joel, could not receive government funding because that town was organized around pervasively sectarian religious principles. And when you‘re required to conform to religious principles, that town is not fitting for governmental authority.
This is not Catholicism—this is not a story about Catholicism. It‘s a story about any religious group trying to exercise governmental power.
CARLSON: Well, wait a second. First of all, I believe all those towns in upstate New York receive a ton of federal aid to this day. So I‘m not exactly sure.
SIMON: We‘re talking about—wait a minute. There was this one town that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
CARLSON: Hold on. I‘m absolutely familiar with the case, but that‘s not what we‘re talking about. We‘re talking about the proposed town in Florida. And the man who is developing the town prefers a pharmacy that does not sell contraception. Isn‘t that his right? It‘s his hand, and if he wants a pharmacy that doesn‘t sell condoms or the pill, it‘s not your business. It‘s not my business. I don‘t have a problem with contraception, but he does. Why can‘t he sell the land to the pharmacy he prefers?
SIMON: Tucker, there are some constitutional principles that come into play here, that the U.S. Supreme Court has—has issued in the 1940s and the 1980s and the 1990s.
CARLSON: Do you have to have a store that sells contraception? Come on.
SIMON: Let me tell you something. And what the court has said was that, to the extent that you open up your private property to people from the outside. He‘s not walling this around only for residents.
To the extent that you open it up for the—to the outside world—there‘s going to be a school there. There‘s going to be a post office there. There‘s going to be shopping centers there, which other people use that.
To the extent that you open it up to the outside world, the rights of private property ownership become circumscribed by the rights of the people who use the facilities. Now, that‘s not me, Tucker, that‘s the U.S. Supreme Court.
CARLSON: I still don‘t understand why you want to interfere in this guy‘s business. If people want to buy the pill they can go to any Shop and Save in the world and get it. Leave this guy and this town, leave them alone. A little diversity in this country is not a bad thing.
You haven‘t convinced me, but I appreciate you coming on anyway.