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.