Two North Carolina legislators want the First Amendment to stay out of their county, and defy court rulings that prevent government bodies from invoking sectarian prayer before conducting public business.
The “Rowan County Defense of Religion Act,” filed yesterday, aims to make Rowan County in central North Carolina county an oasis where the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment does not apply.
The resolution, filed by Rowan County Reps. Carl Ford and Harry Warren, also says the county will get to ignore rulings from higher courts seeking to uphold the Constitution’s powers.
Any constitutional scholars (or first year law students) around to fact check? Please, we’d love to hear what you think of this one.
Here are some snippets from (House Resolution 494):
Whereas the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishing of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’ and
Whereas this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools….
“Whereas, 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 …. 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 Rowan County Commissioners have been fighting attempts to stop them from using Christian prayers to open their meetings, and are being sued by the ACLU of North Carolina in federal court.
UPDATE: The ACLU of North Carolina had this to say about the bill, from legal director Chris Brook: “The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principles of the separation of powers that date back to the founding of this country.”