North Carolina Lays Groundwork To Establish State Religion

Rod-Serling-picture
And you thought it couldn’t get any crazier. A group of legislators in North Carolina, disgruntled over a federal court ruling prohibiting expressly Christian prayer to open meetings of public bodies, have introduced legislation that would…oh, here it is; read it for yourself from House Bill 494:

“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 bill states. “Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

The bill goes on to say:

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.

The bill has eleven co-sponsors including the Majority Leader Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell) and the Budget Committee Chair Justin Burr (R-Stanly).

As far as I can tell, this was reported yesterday and is not an April Fool’s joke or a piece from The Onion, but I could be wrong. Read more at WRAL’s website .

Author: ELIJAH SWEETE

Contributor, aka tidbits

19 Comments

  1. As a resident of NC (Raleigh), I can confirm that this is indeed for real and has been carried by multiple local news outlets (WRAL, NBC17, News&Observer, etc.). I’m sure they think they’re being clever, but if this passes (and that could be a big IF depending on how our newly elected Republican governor wants to position himself – he has been trying to play both the staunch conservative and the moderate) it will simply be a litigious waste of time and money because this would likely not stand up in a federal court.

    It’s getting the typical right-wing spin in the state though.

    Ever since the GOP made in-roads into the NC legislature, they’ve been doing a lot of this. I suspect (or maybe just hope) that we will have an eventual return to normalcy after the relatively new GOP get the crazy out of their system. Or we could be trying to race the deep-south to the bottom. Who knows?

    (As a primer to NC politics, the Democrats held a majority in both houses from 1896 to 2010, until the Obama-backlash hit our state.)

  2. steadystate – Very informative comments about your state.

    As far as this effort, those who think the Tenth amendment can be used to refute any federal law or judicial review they don’t like usually quote only the portion they agree with and ignore the portion that actually applies.

    In this case the First Amendment

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (1791)

    And the Tenth Amendment

    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. (1791)

  3. A State sponsored religion. Phew…. scary…

    I spent some time following a number of the links of that page. Looks like there are a number of cases that will keep the ACLU backlogged and doing lots of overtime in N.C.

    Senate Bill to curb college vote through tax penalty of their parents.
    http://www.wral.com/senate-bil...../12298695/

    A bill filed in the state Senate Tuesday would carry a tax penalty for parents whose children register to vote at their college address.

    Senate Bill 667, “Equalize Voter Rights,” would remove the tax exemption for dependents who register to vote at any address other than their parents’ home.

    “If the voter is a dependent of the voter’s parent or legal guardian, is 18 years of age or older, and the voter has registered at an address other than that of the parent or legal guardian, the parent or legal guardian will not be allowed to claim the voter as a dependent for State income tax purposes,” the bill says.

    ….But it could effectively cut student voting in counties like Watauga and Orange, where college voters have been a key part of the Democratic party’s dominance.

    Bill would nix gender-neutral housing at UNC…
    http://www.wral.com/news/state.....id12297267

    A bill to make it harder for divorce without any clause for domestic violence..

    http://www.wral.com/senate-bil...../12291236/

    Senate Bill 518, dubbed the Healthy Marriage Act, would double the one-year waiting period before a divorce could be granted and would require husband and wife to receive conflict resolution counseling, as well as counseling if they have children. Supporters said they believe the restrictions will help cut the state’s divorce rate.

    Allran said he also wants to scrap the mandatory separation during the waiting period and have couples remain under the same roof.

    “Instead of telling people that they cannot cohabitate during that period of time because, after all, they are married, if they would be able to continue (living together),” he said.

    The proposal doesn’t offer any exceptions for domestic violence or abuse, but Allran said he might add that to the bill before its first hearing in committee, which could come this week.

    Proposals to curtail early voting

    http://www.wral.com/groups-pro...../12283521/

    Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, filed bills this week that would reduce the early voting period from two weeks to one and eliminate same-day voter registration. Starnes’ proposal also would outlaw early voting on Sunday and straight-ticket voting.

    “The legislature is trying to crucify voting rights in this state,” said Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president.

    Oh My! Elijah… Wouldn’t it be lovely to have these guys define your State’s relationship with Source…

  4. steadystate you make reference to Obama backlash, could you share more about what is the source of the backlash? Race?

  5. Wow! I would’ve expected something like this to come out of the other Carolina. When did all the crazies move north?

  6. “As far as this effort, those who think the Tenth amendment can be used to refute any federal law or judicial review they don’t like usually quote only the portion they agree with and ignore the portion that actually applies.

    In this case the First Amendment

    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (1791)

    And the Tenth Amendment

    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. (1791)”

    I think you’ve proven the point that N.C. can establish a religion, not the other way around. The 1st Amendment specifically says “Congress”, meaning the U.S. Congress, can’t establish one, and there’s nothing in it that prohibits states from doing so.

    It would seem that N.C. has a right to change it’s name to North Carolinistan and establish a state-sponsored religion. Because yeah, the only countries who do that are Middle Eastern tyrannies. Go North Carolina!!

  7. Barky

    Since the first amendment, which has precedent and is not repealed by the tenth, states that federal legislatures may not make laws respecting the establishment of a religion, that power is therefore prohibited to the states. Were that not so, individual states could also make laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.

    States can make laws that are not prohibited by or in conflict with the constitution (and its amendments) – as this one would seem to be.

  8. To clarify the Constitutional issue:

    At first blush it would appear that the First Amendment is limited to federal action…”Congress”.

    However, the U S. Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment also applies to state governments by virtue of the 14th Amendment, section 1,”…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty…without due process…equal protection of the laws.” Emphasis mine. Presumably liberty would include concepts like free speech and religious freedom. Thus the application of the First Amendment to the states.

  9. Barky, Tarheelistan has the right amout of syllables to work :).

    As to the “Obama-backlash” – dig up your favorite Fox News talking point. Most of our right-leaning legislature use them like quotes from the bible (which could soon become a state document if only for a little while before the SC strikes it down – upon which cries of an “activist court” would no doubt ring out, which would be ironically regardless of the “activism” that took them to court).

    More seriously, NC has a comparatively high unemployment rate still, especially in the rural regions. The GOP got elected on the premise that their first priority would be jobs, then much like their federal counterparts, they come in and start working on everything but jobs.

    I’ve only lived here for about 8.5 years, but it’s evident to me that there is a real clash between urban and rural (as one could expect anywhere). Only a handful of urban/suburban counties around the Triangle (Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill), the Triad (Winston-Salem / High Point / Greensboro), in/near Charlotte, in/near Wilmington, and in/near Asheville put this state in play as a swing-state. I’m one of the hundreds of thousands to millions of northern carpetbaggers that have moved into this state in recent history.

    There’s surely some racism at play (there’s a lot of “segregation” still, especially in the rural areas). But I also think it’s probably traditional versus socially-progressive. The Dems were generally business-friendly moderates in the state.

    OS, to add to your list, we had Amendment One last May – a referendum initiative on the ballot to amend the state constitution to recognize marriage as only heterosexual – during the primary when there was no Democratic contender. Our current legislature is kind of slimy like that. No doubt, I’m sure some Democratically-controlled legislature in another state has done similar things. Just a case-in-point for our current GOP-control legislature. Not surprisingly, it passed (i.e. hetero-marriage is enshrined in the NC constitution now).

  10. And North Carolina does have a history of concern about certain ‘folk’ getting too ‘uppity’…

    Lynching in North Carolina: A History, 1865-1941

    From the end of the Civil War through 1941, there were 168 North Carolinians who lost their lives to lynching. This form of mob violence was often justified as a means of controlling the black population; protecting white wives and daughters; and defending family honor. Legal attempts to deter lynching–including the 1893 law that classified it as a felony and sought to hold a county liable for damages–generally failed because of a lack of local support and ineffectual enforcement by state officials.

  11. Elijah, thanks for filling in the missing Constitutional piece there.

  12. Just another piece of anti fed govt misinformation that the Federal Govt doesn’t have the authority to pass laws that apply to States, directly refuted by Article VI of the Constitution. Whack jobs, the lot of them.

  13. The people of NC who are sensible and understand the USC have my sympathy. This may not be an April fools joke but it certainly is a joke.

  14. What you have to remember about the GOP in the South is that the base is made up of the three R’s(racists, rednecks, and religious fanatics). The politicians come up with stuff like this knowing full well it will be shot down in the courts. They propose stuff like this to keep their base stirred up and angry so they can get their vote in the next election. There are a number of reasons these people feel this way, which are too numerous and complex to go into here. Suffice it to say the first black president has a lot to do with why we are hearing so much of this type of nonsense in recent years. For them its us conservatives down here fight’n that Kenyan commie in Washington who’s trying to turn this country over to the U.N., seizing our guns, and instituting Sharia Law.

  15. 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

    How is it that an entire state failed civics class?

    Slamfu hit the nail squarely on the Constitutional head. Article VI lays out the supremacy thing quite clearly, ending with “or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    Who is giving these bozos legal counsel? And can the state get those fees refunded?

  16. “North Carolina Lays Groundwork To Establish State Religion”

    Is their goal really to establish a state religion? To me it seems their goal is to be able to continue a traditional practice.

  17. Is their goal really to establish a state religion? To me it seems their goal is to be able to continue a traditional practice.

    As I understand it, they’re not actually trying to establish a state religion, but are instead throwing the equivalent of a legislative temper tantrum over a “traditional practice” that really has no place in government.

    I mean, prayer in schools was once a “traditional practice.”

    One thing I don’t quite grasp is this:

    Conservatives are generally of the opinion (perhaps even rightly) that government is the last outfit you’d want handling just about anything. The private sector, we’re told, is better at delivering every service short of national defense. Government is inefficient, burdensome, bureaucratic, and redundant among other things.

    But when it comes to leading people in prayer? Conservatives tell us the preferred delivery system of prayer is a government employee…whether it be a schoolteacher, or chaplain at the city council meeting, or a judge, or even a Governor or President on a “National Day of Prayer.”

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  18. Wow. Might be a good thread to save.

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