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Question: What does a former confederate state do when threatened with an ACLU lawsuit over officials in the state establishing Christianity in government meetings?
Answer: Declare that states, alone, have the power to determine the constitutionality of what is establishment of religion and what isn't.
No, North Carolina hasn't seceded from the Union yet.....but instead, has added more fuel to The Reverend's "new confederacy" theory. In case you've missed it, the new confederacy theory includes the "tenthers", the "states rights" obsessives, and numerous "nullification" efforts by, primarily, leaders of former confederate states.
In March, the ACLU filed a lawsuit claiming that, since 2007, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners has opened it's meetings 97% of the time with explicitly Christian prayers. Government, whether state, federal or local, cannot establish religion.....at least according to the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States.....
'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;....'
Now I would argue that establishing a formalized prayer at governmental functions is, in itself, an establishment of religion because what is prayer if not an expression of.......religion. But is there any doubt that Rowan County, North Carolina officials should have known better.....
In a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not ban prayer at government meetings outright, but said prayers favoring one religion over another are unconstitutional.
The heck with that, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature decided.
House Joint Resolution 494, filed by Republican Rowan County Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, would refuse to acknowledge the force of any judicial ruling on prayer in North Carolina – or indeed on any Constitutional topic:
"The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people," the resolution states.
"Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion," it states.
Sounds like those lines were written around 1858-1860, doesn't it?
Yes, a resolution is simply an official statement and carries no power.....but what is it that these North Carolina Republicans are communicating with their resolution? You make the call...
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.
Our nation fought a very bloody war over disagreements pertaining to state sovereignty, nullification of federal laws and the legal supremacy of federal law. However, for some reason, many, primarily, former confederate states, haven't received or absorbed the memo.
From Article VI, paragraph 2, of the United States Constitution....
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Stilted prose to be sure....but clear as a bell. There is no question that the 1st amendment prohibits government from establishing religion....and since the Constitution and the "Laws of the United States....made in Pursuance thereof" take precedent over state laws or interpretations.....North Carolina Republicans are simply sticking out their neo-confederate chins hoping for a prolonged political squabble over already-settled law.
For those "tenthers" out there going 'but, but, but.. the 10th Amendment this and the 10th Amendment that'.......
'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.'
Prohibiting government....all forms of government in the U.S....from establishing religion is a power delegated to the federal government of the United States alone in the 1st Amendment.
North Carolina resolution-writing Republicans should be required to take remedial classes on the Constitution......and what it was that led directly to our bloodiest war ever.