Establishment Clause? What Establishment Clause?

In another sign of desperation at the increasing secularization of society that is resulting in religion being relegated to its proper sphere of the private domain, the legislature of North Carolina is proposing a bill that would allow the state to declare an official religion as well as “nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide”. The bill reads in part:

SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

This was in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU challenging the practice of the state legislature beginning its sessions with explicitly Christian prayers.

So how do they expect to get over the Establishment Clause hurdle? The bill’s proponents base their claim on the 10th Amendment to the US constitution that says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

The bill may be one of those symbolic gestures put forward by crackpots in state legislatures from time in order to appease the zealots among their constituents, but this one has garnered significant backing with 11 co-sponsors including the majority leader and chair of the budget committee, all Republicans. The House has 120 members and the Senate has 50.

Even if it passes, it will surely be struck down by the US Supreme Court, as have previous attempts to use the 10th Amendment to avoid having to comply with federal laws.


  1. Trebuchet says

    I can’t find it at the moment, but another (probably FTB) blog this morning pointed out that this violates not only the US Constitution, but that of the state itself! It also points out that the legislators have taken a solemn oath, probably on a Bible, to uphold both constitutions.

  2. doublereed says

    No Republican ever reads Section 1 of the 14th Amendment:

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

  3. Trebuchet says

    @doublereed: There’s a popular meme among wingnuts that the 14th ammendment was never ratified, or was repealed, or something.

  4. richardrobinson says

    Would this not constitute an act of sedition? They’re basically saying, “we don’t like these parts of the constitution, therefore we’re ignoring them.” Which is effectively the same as saying, “we no longer want to be part of a country that has these as its laws.”

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