Proposed resolution rejects federal courts - WNCT

Proposed resolution rejects federal courts

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A pair of North Carolina legislators has introduced a resolution asserting the state can make its own laws regarding the establishment of religion and that the federal government and courts have no authority to decide what is constitutional.
    
The resolution, filed by two Republicans from Rowan County, declares "each state is sovereign and may independently determine how the state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion."
    
The resolution is titled "A Joint Resolution to Proclaim the Rowan County, North Carolina Defense of Religion Act of 2013." It goes beyond religion to claim federal court rulings on any constitutional issue have no authority in the 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, invoking the Tenth Amendment.
    
The resolution is nothing more than political grandstanding, said Marci Hamilton, church-state expert at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City.  "Were they to pass this bill, it would be unconstitutional and nothing but the subject of litigation," she said. "It would take the federal courts about five minutes to hold that it's unconstitutional."
    
She said it concerned her because elected officials must pledge to uphold the federal and state constitutions. "It does show me that the elected officials are willing to pander to what they perceive as their voters, regardless of what the Constitution requires," she said.
    
The bill's primary sponsors are Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford, a tea party member. Eleven other legislators signed on to the resolution. Legislators introduce scores of resolutions every year, honoring constituents or declaring their stances on issues, but they carry little legal weight.  But Hamilton said a resolution could still be unconstitutional if it was considered a government endorsement of a particular religion. The resolution does not specify any religion.
    
Warren said in a statement that the bill was only intended to allow Rowan County officials to open their meetings with prayer, not to establish a state religion. Ford did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
    
The House Rules chairman said Wednesday that the bill won't be considered in its current form. Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said he didn't believe it was the intent of the bill's sponsors to let the state create or sanction a religion, but rather to express opposition to a lawsuit they perceived to infringe on religious freedom.
    
In March, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina sued the board of commissioners in Rowan County. The federal lawsuit accuses the board of violating the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion by routinely praying to Jesus Christ to start its meetings.
    
Chris Brook, legal director of the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the lawmakers don't understand constitutional law and principles of separation of powers.
    
"These are principles that have served our nation well for hundreds of years," he said. "And it is unfortunate that these elected officials would seek to throw these hallowed principles overboard because they don't like the results they produce in one case."
    
The bill asks the House and Senate to concur with these conclusions: that the U.S. Constitution "does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion" and that the Legislature "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."
    
Hamilton described the bill as a waste of time, money and resources. "It is part of our current culture that some religious believers are arguing that they don't have to obey the law," she said. "But when it's our election officials saying they don't have to obey the federal Constitution, it's very sad."
    
Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the resolution likely would have only symbolic meaning and no legal significance.
    
"Resolutions usually mean nothing more than a belief, and these lawmakers are entitled to have that belief," he said.
    
He compared the arguments to those used to assert states' rights in defending slavery.
    
"If it's supposed to be substantive, then that's a constitutional problem," he said. "Whatever their beliefs may be, they were resolved by the Civil War" and by Supreme Court, federal court and state court decisions.
___
    
Online:
    
The proposed resolution
 

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:15:49 GMT
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
  • Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:58 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:58:27 GMT
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
  • Republican NC Senate candidates meet in debate

    Republican NC Senate candidates meet in debate

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 2:24 PM EDT2014-04-23 18:24:44 GMT
    Thom Tillis largely shrugged off criticism about aspects of his legislative record from one of the three other candidates participating in their first television debate.
    Thom Tillis largely shrugged off criticism about aspects of his legislative record from one of the three other candidates participating in their first television debate.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:40:54 GMT
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
  • Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Monday, April 14 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-04-14 20:07:04 GMT
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.