North Carolina legislators want to abolish freedom of religion

I swear—I thought this was an April Fool’s joke when I heard about it, but it’s not.  The April Fools are the two North Carolina state legislators, Carl Ford and Harry Warren, who have written a bill trying to establish that states are exempt from the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibiting governmental establishment of religion. In other words, they don’t want the freedom of religion envisioned by our founders, who wanted to completely separate church from state.  (You can download the bill here.) The bill argues, in short, that nothing in the Constitution applies to states, schools, or municipalities, and that’s because the Constitution doesn’t give the Federal government the power to determine what is constitutional.  (I guess the Supreme Court was a huge mistake!) \

Ergo the states can determine what is constitutional, and Ford and Warren conclude that the First Amendment is inapplicable in North Carolina:

Picture 3

According to PuffHo,:

The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, wral.com reported.

The religion bill comes as some Republican-led states seek to separate themselves from the federal government, primarily on the issues of guns and Obamacare. This includes a proposal in Mississippi to establish a state board with the power to nullify federal laws.

They add this frightening bit of trivia:

The North Carolina state constitution disqualifies those who do not believe in God from public office. The provision has been unenforcible since the 1961 Supreme Court decision in Torcaso v. Watkins, which prohibited such bans.

This bill surely won’t pass, as its ramifications for the country are unthinkable, but imagine if it did. Could a North Carolina State Religion be far behind, like a state bird or state flower? And just guess what that religion would be.

I weep for America. People like Ford and Warren are so far removed from the sanity and thoughtfulness of this nation’s founders that they shouldn’t be proposing any laws.

State Bird

State Bird

State Religion

State Religion

h/t: Jonathan

134 Comments

  1. Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I, too, had to check the date on the news report when I saw it last night. But April fools have certainly taken over our legislature.
    Of course, conservatives in my state have been chomping at the bit for a time (now) when they’d control our state government. However, I never thought they would stoop this low.
    Messing with schools, abortion and climate change seemed to be expected. But to attack the US Constitution, I never imagined this.

  2. Chris Schulte
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    A tea-partier once gave me the argument that the states do have this right even though the federal government doesn’t. I didn’t know how to argue that so I asked a lawyer friend about it. She said that the 14th amendment requires the states to comply with the constitution.

    • mordacious1
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      She’s partially right. The 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause has been interpreted by SCOTUS to “incorporate” most portions of the Bill of Rights to the States (not the whole Constitution).

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Correct. However, the whole constitution applies to the States as appropriate. Some provisions (Article I for instance) don’t really have much to do with the States or their conduct.

        sean s.

  3. Don
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    It’s a terrible thing, how baseless righteousness so often leads to oppression. And worse.

  4. Veroxitatis
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    If you don’t like your club’s rules then leave and form your own club.
    How easy would it be for a State to secede from the Union? What would be the mechanics?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      The current understanding is that it’s not legal. We had a little dispute about that from 1861 to 1865.

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        We also had a little dispute regarding Native American ownership of their land in the nineteenth century. Let us not imagine that might makes right.

        • gbjames
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

          When did the subject shift to whether you think it is a good thing or not? States don’t get to override Federal law and they aren’t free to secede whether they want to or not.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          He asked if it was legal, not if it was right.

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            By the Supreme Court’s standards, it certainly isn’t. The Constitution says nothing about secession.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Legalities of secession aside, the fact remains that North Carolina gets 35% of its state budget from the federal government. To make up that lost revenue, they’d have to (*gasp*) raise taxes on their citizens.

      For all their hatred of “wealth redistribution”, red states are net beneficiaries of it. Rank the states by how much they pay in federal taxes minus how much they get back in federal aid, and you find blue states clustered at the “pay more” end and red states at the “get more” end. The same rule applies when you break it down by counties: blue subsidizes red. That 47% that Romney talked about, the ones who take more than they give? They’re the ones who voted for him.

      So from a practical standpoint it’s not the law that stops states from seceding; it’s economics. Those states most tempted to try it are the ones least able to make it on their own.

      • gbjames
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        And also, surprise!, they tend to be the most religious.

      • Gary W
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        For all their hatred of “wealth redistribution”, red states are net beneficiaries of it. Rank the states by how much they pay in federal taxes minus how much they get back in federal aid, and you find blue states clustered at the “pay more” end and red states at the “get more” end.

        But that comparison is essentially meaningless for the purpose of attributing federal costs and benefits by state, so the claim that red states get more in federal benefits than they pay in federal taxes is completely bogus. A state with a disproportionately large number of retirees, for example, will receive a disproportionately large share of federal Social Security spending. But the recipients of that spending may have paid their SS payroll taxes in a different state. A big defense contractor may get a lot of federal money in the form of military contracts, but the national security benefits of that spending apply to the whole nation, not just the state in which the contractor is located. And so on.

        • Notagod
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          Those payment to the retirees and defense contracts support the economies within those states. Your claim is hollow. Those retirees either move out of that state or lose the payments. Those contractors either move out of that state or lose the contracts. Either way that state loses big time.

        • Gary W
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

          Those payment to the retirees and defense contracts support the economies within those states.

          No, they support the economies of many states. Virtually everything we buy was either produced outside the state where the purchase is made, or contains materials or components produced outside the state, from housing to food to cars to iPads. When a retiree in Texas uses his Social Security income to buy a car from his local dealership, part of the benefit of that spending goes to the autoworkers in another state where the car was made. When the retiree buys oranges from his local grocery store, part of the benefit goes to farmers in California or Florida. When he buys an iPad from the Apple online store, part of the benefit goes to Apple shareholders, who may live anywhere. And so on. And that’s just monetary benefits that can be associated with particular individuals. As I said, the benefits of a lot of government spending are “public goods” that are not localized to any state — national defense, scientific and medical research, national transportation infrastructure, etc. The idea that you can attribute the benefit of government spending solely to the state in which the immediate recipient of the spending resides is just nonsense.

          • Notagod
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

            It doesn’t matter to the producers which state or country their products are purchased in. You forget that without the federal funding the state’s economy shrinks because the people won’t be there or won’t have the money to spend within that state.

            • Gary W
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

              It doesn’t matter to the producers which state or country their products are purchased in.

              It matters for the attribution of benefits of the federal spending. That’s why it makes no sense to claim that “red states” get more in federal benefits than they pay in federal taxes.

              • Notagod
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

                No it doesn’t. The entire nation pays federal taxes some states are net users of those funds and other states are net providers of those funds. The producers of food that is purchased in all states isn’t relevant. The federal funds aren’t allocated based on how many glasses of orange juice are consumed by the repub. in North Carolina.

              • Gary W
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

                The producers of food that is purchased in all states isn’t relevant.

                Of course it’s relevant. If you live in Michigan and use your SS check to buy oranges grown in Florida, part of the benefit of your check goes to the orange growers in Florida. It’s an example of interstate commerce. Any comparison of federal taxes and spending by state must take interstate transactions into account. Simply adding up taxes and receipts by state doesn’t do that. It’s meaningless.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

          Last time I heard, the pork barrel benefits of defense contract spending to local voters generally vastly outweigh any benefits to the country as a whole.

          But then I’m a cynic.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

            Definitely. Most defense spending is corporate welfare and has nothing to do with national security.

  5. gbjames
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    You see this silly idea appearing from right-wing nuts in many forms. One of the more common ones is that County Sheriffs can disregard any federal laws they want to.

    There are a lot of very stupid people out there.

  6. Alex Shuffell
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Do these people look to Iran as a role model?

    • Sastra
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I think their role model is much closer to home: their home. I mean their actual household, where the parents in charge determine that this house is a house that worships Jesus, by God. Visitors are welcome, of course — and nobody will force them to go to church. But they have to recognize whose house it is. Even if they live there it doesn’t belong to them.

      Maybe the house next door worships some other god. And when the Christians visit THAT home they respect the rules of the other house.

      I think it’s just that simple — and simplistic. They’re using familiar personal experience as a frame of reference for how they think about government. Majority = homeowners. “My house, my rules.” Religious minorities should get their OWN place to live if they can’t recognize and respect that.

      Then we can have a bunch of different states with a bunch of different state religions — and oh, boy — won’t the superiority of OUR home stand out! They’ll all be fighting to either get into our house or converting their own houses to the true religion because that’s the only one that works.

      Children being childish. The faithful.

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        “Maybe the house next door worships some other god. And when the Christians visit THAT home they respect the rules of the other house.”

        (I have license to say what I’m about to say because I am a native North Carolinian and have lived here most of my life. I’m not proud of it, that’s just the way things worked out . . .)

        In North Carolina there are (at least) two kinds of Christians . . . the authoritarian “God said it. I believe it. That settles it,” “If it ain’t King James it ain’t the Bible” Bible-thumpers and evangelicals. I call them Old Testament Christians and New Testament Christians. The Bible-thumpers would do their damnedest to avoid going in their neighbor’s house. The evangelicals /*would*/ visit their neighbors and would “do as Romans do.” I think it’s safe to say that Ford and Warren are of the former persuasion . . .

  7. Joeyq
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I am so ashamed of my state.

  8. Veroxitatis
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Reply to self.
    Oops!! I should have read the North Carolina State Constitution which at Sect. 4 prohibits secession. I’m not sure however that an exercise of sovereignty can be fettered thus. It could not be in the UK.

    • gbjames
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      It doesn’t really matter what the NC state Constitution says about secession. They tried to leave once but ever since 1865 it has been clear that states don’t get to leave.

      • Veroxitatis
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Always an interesting question wre push come to shove. If a clear majority of State voters wanted secession would the Federal Government impose its will by force? If it did not do so and the State was clearly in control of its territory that could give rise to recognition by the Community of Nations which is the ultimate test of sovereignty.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

          If a clear majority of State voters wanted secession would the Federal Government impose its will by force?

          The last time it happened, they did. Would things be different if it happened again? They might, but I doubt it.

        • Notagod
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

          That state wouldn’t make it. Even if the Federal Government didn’t impose its will by force that state would be treated as hostile by the United States, there would be no trade with that state and there would be strictly enforced sanctions. That state wouldn’t be a place that anyone except crazy people would want to be.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Since the Constitution was freely written and adopted, it’s perfectly valid for NC to state that secession is prohibited.

      • Veroxitatis
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        All I meant was that it is “perfectly valid” for the British Parliament to enact one day that 2+2=5 and next day =6. (A bit like Mr Osborn’s budgetary skills!!) Parliaments can bind neither themselves nor their successors.

      • gbjames
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        It is. It is also perfectly meaningless since writing the opposite (that they can secede if they want) would have no basis.

  9. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    There was a West Wing episode in which President Bartlet is campaigning for re-election against the Republican Governor of Florida. In a debate the Governor makes some point along these lines about states taking back power from the federal government. Bartlet’s rebuttal goes something like this:

    “You want wall-to-wall state government, that’s fine. But may I remind you, Governor, that last year your state received $12 billion in federal funds, out of a total state budget of $50 billion. Now I’m supposed to use this time for a question, so here it is: Can we have it back please?”

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Nice.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      If I correctly remember, I read in the N.Y. Times a few days ago of Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada several years ago (at the behest of the National Gun – Ah mean Rifle – Association) arranging for federal money to fund a shooting range.

    • Gary W
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Can we have it back please?”

      “Certainly, Mr President, as long as we can have our federal taxes back.”

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        One bright spot is that so far comments on this bill in the Raleigh News and Observer are almost all negative, and usually there are many conservative commenters who defend everything the GOP does. Maybe they’re just not online yet though.

      • iariese
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        Gary – Let’s take Iowa, since that is where I currently reside. Iowan’s pay $1.00 in Federal taxes. The Federal Government sends $1.12 BACK to Iowa (aren’t farm subsidies great!). Iowans OWE the Federal Government $.12 as a result of the net difference. Most of that excess comes from California and New York and the other ‘Blue’ states. Red states usually receive more from DC than they send in.
        Now do you understand?
        The Tax Foundation used to do a state-by-state analysis. You might wanna check that out.

  10. Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    These states-rights efforts come up every now and then, but because the Constitution makes federal law supreme (Art. VI, § 2) they are doomed to fail. As Chris Schulte notes above, the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Bill of Rights against the States.

    All politics is local, and these guys are playing to their base. Don’t ignore them, but no need to panic just yet.

    sean s.

  11. iariese
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    There are many conservatives who will tell you that T. Jefferson really did not mean what he meant – through his other writings and actions – when he used the phrase “wall of separation between church and state”. Nor do they realize that David Barton is a liar, first and foremost.

  12. Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Would Unitarians or Catholics be acceptable? What shall we call the NEW Inquisition?

    There ain’t no fixing stupid. If Mankind should some how develop a vaccine for stupid, it would be greatest achievement of humans, ever.

    • lizwinfreyventura
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      vaccine for stupid = euthanasia

      • lizwinfreyventura
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        and preferably before procreation…

      • Kevin
        Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        education

  13. Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The GOP is trying to take N.C., which used to be a fairly progressive state by Southern standards, back to the Dark Ages in this and many other ways. This bill is clearly unconstitutional; but if it passes, I’m going to propose that the official religion be either the Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you. Would just congenially reflect that the Democrats held power for a long time prior. I perceive that the R’s are of the mindset of the D’s then. (1898 Wilmington, NC, race riots, Dixiecrats in general, etc.)

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

        It is true that many Democrats in N.C. have been and still are of the “blue dog” variety that is just a little less conservative than the Republicans; and Democrats have also inflicted some anti-civil-liberty legislation on the state, such as the Speaker Ban Law of 1963, which was eventually ruled unconstitutional. It is a matter of degree. Democrats have tended to become more liberal or at least moderate during the last 50 or so years while Republicans have become more conservative. At least, while they were in power, the Democrats kept an amendment prohibiting marriage equality or even civil unions from being put on the ballot because they knew it would probably pass; but Republicans enthusiastically put it on last May’s ballot, and it passed 61%-39%, largely because of the influence of the religious right, including many very religious black people who are Democrats. Most of the urban areas of the state are fairly progressive, but the rural areas are still very conservative.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I think islam would be a better choice. ;-)

  14. lizwinfreyventura
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Ugh. I live in North Carolina. This is incredibly disappointing. I cannot imagine that people would let this type of thing pass. There are too many diverse people in the larger cities of North Carolina who would be extremely pissed off if there was an official state-wide religion declared that is not their own.

    The mere thought that someone would even consider proposing this is just a display of some of the most closed-minded neo-naziism than I care to ever see again in my lifetime, it’s just sickening.

    Very disappointed in my state right now…

    – Liz

    • Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I live in Louisiana. I bet my people could get it done if the folks in NC don’t want to. Then we would finally be a real Catholic state and validate the official Mardi Gras and Good Friday state holidays. Ugh is right.

  15. DrBrydon
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    NC has one of the weaker freedom of religion clauses:

    Sec. 13. Religious liberty.
    All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

    Although one could say that one’s conscience dictates that one not worship god, that is probably a construction the framers would have rejected. A modern court would most likely say that this clause prohibits establishment in the same way the US Consitution does. Do they have modern courts in North Carolina?

  16. Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    oh can we watch as the Christians have it out over who has the one true version?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      The entertainment from that would be the consolation prize.

  17. Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Uh, maybe someone could tell me (whether you agree with it or not) how the following words prohibit a state from having an established religion:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”

    In fact, maybe someone could explain how that language doesn’t have the exact effect of protecting any state that had an established church.

    Hint: at least five states signing on to that language hand established churches.

    • gbjames
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      You need to look at case law and Supreme Court decisions over the past couple of centuries to get a complete answer. Try this for an answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_the_United_States

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

        I’m not asking about what courts have said it says; I’m asking about what it says.

        • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

          Because the Fourteenth Amendment was added, the First Amendment cannot be understood in isolation.

          sean s.

        • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          As said below, the 14th amendment extended that to the states as I understand it.

        • gbjames
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Where are you coming from here?

          1) You can read for yourself the original document, or

          2) “Its” meaning is the product of legal reasoning over centuries, mostly in the decades following the Civil War, that produced what we know understand to be the law.

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

            Having graduated from Law School, and having done quite well in Constitutional Law, I can say these seem like fair questions. Especially so given the abundant mis-information out there on the interwebs.

            sean s.

            • gbjames
              Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps you should answer them, then. To me they have a vaguely trollish feel.

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            In regard to 2), the context is neither decretive nor immune from criticism, and in any case a proper understanding of the original language is necessary (thought not sufficient) to understand in context.

    • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      It’s the Fourteenth Amendment; § 1 that controls:

      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.

      sean s.

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        It does not follow from that language that, ipso facto, states cannot have established churches. You’re making all kinds of assumptions here that need to be justified. Again, if the First Amendment protected established state churches, which it clearly did if it prevented Congress from making laws about them, then saying that applying the First Amendment to the states doesn’t necessitate that they can’t have established churches. You’re essentially saying that applying language that prohibited Congress from interfering in established state churches to the states means that states can’t have established churches. That is clearly absurd.

    • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      It is my understanding that “the equal protection of the laws” provision of the 14th Amendment makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the states.

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        But if the First Amendment actually protects established state churches by disallowing Congress from making laws concerning them and that were applied to the states, then how could applying First Amendment protections to the states be used to disestablish state churches?

        • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          Because the First Amendment prohibits the Congress from making any laws respecting an establishment of religion, and the Fourteenth Amendment places that limit on the States; therefore, after the Fourteenth amendment, States can no longe have “established” churches.

          sean s.

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

            How? Just stating something doesn’t make it so. From the fact that the 14th Amendment applies the Bill of Rights to the states, it does not follow automatically that the First Amendment, which protected established state churches, now prohibits them.

            • Kevin
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

              Jesus fucking Christ…you’ve been TOLD that this is the case.

              It’s in the FUCKING CONSTITUTION in the form of the 14th Amendment.

              Or try Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961).

              Justice Black writing for the Court: We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person “to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.

              Fucking pedants.

        • Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

          Because the constitution can change through the things called amendments, the application of which is decided by these things we have called courts which use a thing called legal precedent. This information is explained in the links others have provided you, unless you want an in depth discussion about whether our legal system is legitimate.

          • Veroxitatis
            Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

            Or to put matters simply the law is what a majority of Justices of the Supreme Court say it is (or should that be “find it to be”) from time to time.

            • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

              Does that mean there is no perspective from which such decisions can be criticized?

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

            Just stating truisms nobody disagrees with doesn’t answer the question of how the First Amendment, whose language simply states what Congress can’t pass any law having to do with an established religion (one way or another) applies today.

            • Kevin
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

              BECAUSE THE 14TH AMENDMENT EXTENDED THOSE PROTECTIONS TO THE STATES.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          The 14th Amendment’s incorporation means that state legislatures are also forbidden from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

          • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            I think it would require an actual argument to establish that half of the logical implications of the establishment language of the First Amendment were basically annulled. What language in the 14th Amendment implies this?

            • Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

              Well there is a second clause of the first amendment you are ignoring “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” . Meaning that the 14th amendment, by applying the protections of the 1st to all citizens to all jurisdictions, bars states from infringing on the practice of religion, by say imposing a state religion.

            • Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

              The 1st Amendment originally prohibited the establishment of religion by Congress but not by the states. It is my understanding that by applying the “equal protection of the laws” to the states, the 14th Amendment also prohibits states from establishing religion and from prohibiting the free exercise religion.

            • Gary W
              Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

              martincothran,

              The Supreme Court has explicitly ruled that the 14th Amendment makes the 1st Amendment applicable to the states as well as the federal government.

              See Everson v. Board of Education.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

              They weren’t annulled, they were extended. Congress can make no law respecting an establishemnt of religion, and, after the 14th amendment, neither can state legislatures.

  18. Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Sound like someone is trying to install those scary sharia laws…

  19. Brian
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Do states serve any purpose in the 21st century? I’d think the effect that having 50 sets of rules has on businesses would be reason enough for reorganization, let alone that they serve as a breeding ground for idiot politicians.

    • neil
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it contains these nutty policies to the nutty states. How would you like it if the nutty policies apply across the country, which is what happens when the nuts control the central government (which they are never far from doing.)

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        For example, it’s states that are pushing back against the federal government’s nutty policies on marijuana.

    • Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      There’s a lot of controversy about what the States are for, especially in the 21st century.

      That each State can have local business rules has its upside. Sometimes it’s the States that figure out how to do things right; a lot of environmental rules that Congress could never pass make it through State legislatures (esp. CA). Of course, sometimes they blunder, but it’s a blunder that often only affects that State; and eventually these things get sorted out.

      To the extent that businesses operate inter-state, Congress has plenary authority; States cannot interfere without permission. The “dormant commerce clause” has felled many a law-school student, and not just a few legislators.

      States may serve as a “breeding ground for idiot politicians”; but a good many of the better politicians get started there too. In State government, the idiots also can be discovered by their idiot conduct before inflicting it on the Nation; another good thing. In this instance, the universe is on notice about Misters Ford and Warren. Better in Raleigh than in DC. Again, this does not always work (what ever does?), but the alternative would not work any better.

      sean s.

      • Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        “Better in Raleigh than in DC.”

        As someone living near Raleigh, it’s very hard for me to agree with that!

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Same-sex marriage has also been a state-by-state initiative. It couldn’t pass the national legislature now.

    • Bob J
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

      As for businesses there is the UCC

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Commercial_Code

      to help solve this problem

  20. Posted April 3, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Stonyground:
    There is an irony here in that most countries in Europe do have an established religion. Over the last two hundred years or so, those who do not subscribe to the established religion have gradually gained equal rights. The end result is that most of us are either indifferent or deeply suspicious of religion. In the UK, Tony Blair had to keep the fact that he was a religious nut a secret. Had he blathered on about God and Jesus in the way that American political candidates do, he would have lost his deposit*. So if North Carolina did establish a state religion, the most likely outcome is that it would become the most godless state in America.

    *To avoid frivolous attempts at being elected to Parliament, UK political candidates have to put up a financial deposit which is returned to them providing they gain a sufficient number of votes.

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

      Of course not all such attempts are truly frivolous. The three main parties contest all, or virtually all, seats, but each of them will lose deposits in some seats. Often it’s the only way for a main party candidate to cut his / her teeth. A slight uplift in the vote may be enough to get the candidate a better prospect next time around. Fourt and fifth parties such as UKIP, the Greens and the BNP take comfort from the overall rise in their vote countrywide.

    • pulseteresa
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      “So if North Carolina did establish a state religion, the most likely outcome is that it would become the most godless state in America.”

      Perhaps, eventually. European countries had enforced state religions long before they became mere figureheads.

  21. Posted April 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    OHMYFSM…I sure hope the Kentucky legislature doesn’t get wind o’ this, my state seems hell-bent on replacing genuine religious liberty with a lip-service facade or sham of religious liberty and our legislature will adopt that NC bill’s approach inna New York heartbeat if they…ah jeez, too late, that cat’s totally outa the bag now, I can already hear the Kentucky legislators rushing to beat Mississippi to it!

    Surely the SCotUS will not let that stand…

    • Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      My people here in Louisiana and over in Alabama will beat all y’all. Don’t worry. We’re next.

  22. Filippo
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Too many U.S. citizens view Amuricuh as “The Exceptional Nation.” (How do they know this? By “revelation”? Did it come to them in a dream?) Wonder whut state is thuh “greatest” state in The Land of the Fee and The Home of the Craven?

    • Gary W
      Posted April 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Too many U.S. citizens view Amuricuh as “The Exceptional Nation.”

      The United States is The Exceptional Nation. It is by far the most powerful nation in the world — economically, militarily, politically, culturally, scientifically and technologically.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        That’s not the same as exceptional.

        • Gary W
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

          Of course it is. The U.S. is exceptional in all of the ways I listed.

          • Notagod
            Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            No it is not.

            • Gary W
              Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

              You’ve got to be kidding. Which countries do you claim are more powerful than the U.S. economically, militarily, politically, culturally, scientifically, and/or technologically? In fact, we’re not merely exceptional in each of these areas. We are uniquely powerful.

              The only other country that even comes close to the U.S. on any of these measures is China, in terms of total GDP (in every other measure China is far weaker than the U.S.).

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted April 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        “In most important categories we’re not even in the Top 10 anymore. Not even close. The U.S.A. is ‘No. 1’ in nothing but weaponry, consumer spending, debt, and delusion.” Michael Ventura

        • Gary W
          Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          Who’s Michael Ventura? What “categories” is he talking about?

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

            It’s from the book “100 Ways America is Screwing up the World” (published in 2006) by John Tirman. In section #76, Tirman is drawing from Ventura, a journalist with the Austin Chronicle. The sampling of Ventura’s collocation that Tirman cites include statistics on literacy, quality health care, childhood poverty, publication of scientific articles and infant mortality. Then he mentions Ventura’s conclusion, which is the quote I posted. Frankly, except for baseball, I’m hard-pressed to add anything positive to the list. Leading the world in creationists does not count.

            • Gary W
              Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

              statistics on literacy, quality health care, childhood poverty, publication of scientific articles and infant mortality

              Why are those statistics more important with respect to the exceptional nature of the U.S. than the categories I listed?

              And your vague criticism just raises more questions. What exactly is this journalist claiming about literacy, etc.? How is he measuring “quality health care?” The idea that the U.S. compares poorly to other countries on “publication of scientific articles” seems very dubious. The U.S. spends far more on research and development than any other country.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

                Because they’re more important to the general welfare of the population.

              • Gary W
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

                No they’re not. And the stats he mentioned are simply irrelevant to the point, anyway. Regardless of where the U.S. ranks on some statistic relating to, say, “childhood poverty,” the U.S. is exceptional in each of the ways I listed.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Yes, it is exceptional in the areas you listed, but unexceptional in other areas.

      • Posted April 4, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

        Gentlepersons, please! The question of “exceptionalism” is a definition-dependent (we talkin’ exceptionally GOOD, or exceptionally BAD?), category-dependent (we talkin’ economically-speaking, liberty-enjoying, quality-of-lifewise, quality of public education, and so forth?) matter of subjective judgment/opinion (not objective fact like land area or population count or GNP), and thus, opinions vary!

        Matters of judgment/opinion are not settled by quoting a particular someone’s published opinion or asserting one’s own opinion.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted April 4, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

          In American political discourse, “American exceptionalism” is a propaganda phrase used to mean that the US shouldn’t have to abide by the same international norms as every other country. We’re special, so we can ignore international conventions on torture and other war crimes, treatment of prisoners of war, etc.

          • Gary W
            Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            In American political discourse, “American exceptionalism” is a propaganda phrase used to mean that the US shouldn’t have to abide by the same international norms as every other country.

            No, the phrase “American exceptionalism” can refer to a number of ways in which the U.S. is exceptional. The most obvious forms of American exceptionalism are the ones I listed — the size of the U.S. economy, the strength of the U.S. military, the influence of American culture, and so on.

            We’re special, so we can ignore international conventions on torture and other war crimes, treatment of prisoners of war, etc.

            We are special by virtue of our enormous power and influence. That makes us a special target of the envy and frustration of other nations. That puts our military at greater risk of trumped up charges of war crimes and other false accusations. We are right to be wary of entering into international treaties or agreements that would increase this risk.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

              That’s propaganda for the rubes. You’re not supposed to actually believe it.

              • Gary W
                Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

                That’s propaganda for the rubes

                What a powerful counterargument.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted April 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

              Lovely combination of vanity and paranoia there. Which all boils down to ‘we (the US) refuse to commit ourselves to behaving in a civilised fashion’. Which is certainly one of the reasons why other nations get frustrated with the US.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 5, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

                Actually, I fired from the hip a bit too quickly there, apologies if my phrasing was unfortunate. Gary’s right about the US’s enormous power and influence. This is, along with the US’s claims to democracy, why we would like the US to maintain high standards and we’re disappointed and maybe rather affronted when the US refuses to sign up to some long-negotiated international convention to try and limit the horrors of war. If North Korea refuses, well, nobody’s very surprised, what would you expect from North Korea.

                But the ‘false accusation’ claim rings hollow. Which country is better able to protect its military from false charges? In that context, refusing to sign up just looks like you’re expecting your military to behave worse than everyone else’s. The other explanation, that you (the US) will keep your military in line and nobody else has any say in it, just seems… arrogant.

              • Gary W
                Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

                But the ‘false accusation’ claim rings hollow. Which country is better able to protect its military from false charges? In that context, refusing to sign up just looks like you’re expecting your military to behave worse than everyone else’s.

                No, it has nothing to do with our military behaving worse than everyone else’s. The problem, as I said, is that our military is likely to be a bigger target for false accusations than everyone else’s, because of our immense power. If you’re Number One, you’re more likely to attract the attention of those who envy your power and who are looking to take the Big Guy down a peg or two than if you’re Number Fifty. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should refuse to sign any treaties or enter into any international agreements for legal oversight of our military actions, but it does mean we should be particularly cautious about them.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 6, 2013 at 1:13 am | Permalink

                One of the problems with this is that when the US doesn’t sign up, it acts as an excuse or incentive for other countries to not sign up too. An excuse that gains credibility precisely because of the US’s size and influence.

  23. David Duncan
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    “This bill surely won’t pass…”

    Never say never, especially when dopes like these guys are involved.

  24. Paul01
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    If I’m not mistaken I have heard Scalia maintain this very position… that the States should not be bound by the 1st amendment.

  25. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I am trying (possibly not uniquely) to envisage a “God[-ess]” of [N|S] Carolina … Probably it’ll be a lovely malarial mosquito, because the rest of science and medicine won’t be far behind.

  26. Dave
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    I believe The Constitution is also known as “the law of the land” so, if you are part of the “land” …

  27. Diane G.
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    sub

  28. Myreen Nicholson
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    North Carolina was settled by many from Virginia who left it get away from religion. I guess now N.C. wants to be ruled by divine right of Kings. Anyway, there could be an exodus from the Research Triangle of top people
    who will not stand for this.

  29. Hempenstein
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    From my brother (we adopted each other a few yrs ago), an organic (ex-tobacco) farmer and sociology professor in far-western Madison County NC:

    That’s right.. . . .we’re tired of playing second fiddle to Arizona, South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas as if they are the only players in this “let’s take it back” movement (god only knows what they think IT is). . . .we’re going for the big one!!!

    Stay tuned!!!

  30. Posted April 26, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    Jeeez!! This is very ominous!

    Well, they are not that far ahead. Jihad is with certainty coming our way and it IS state religion in certain places. Like it or lump it. And those guys won’t ask whether we like it or have a constitution before they brutally enforce theirs.


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