Lawmakers introduce bill ignoring First Amendment (with response from ACLU)

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.ford and warren

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.”


Rowan County Defense of Religion by ncpolicywatch


  1. Gene Hoglan

    April 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Sounds like a couple of jokers slept through the section on the incorporation doctrine in their University of Phoenix Law for Dummies class.

  2. Michael

    April 3, 2013 at 12:33 am

    Interesting… maybe Orange & Durham Counties can extend that logic to conclude that they are not bound by the state constitution, and we can start allowing same-gender marriage here (since both counties opposed the amendment last year!

  3. Doug

    April 3, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Funny how you progressives like to argue the first ammendment until someone attempts to enact it to protect speech that you do not like. It’s not like they are establishing a state religion which is what the first ammendment was to protect against…you know the Angilcan church and all.

  4. Keith Morris

    April 3, 2013 at 10:35 am

  5. livilla

    April 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Finally, the Tealiban comes out of the closet. So respond in kind: try them for treason.

  6. Doug

    April 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Well Keith, the headline does not match the bill being proposed. You need to read the whole thing before you post. The bill proposes that the feds cannot regulate the state in that manner.

    My earlier comment still stands.

  7. Lucille

    April 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    So, can anyone living in North Carolina file a suit to find them incompitent?.

  8. Lucille

    April 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Dearest Doug;

    YOU cannot be picky with the constitution, YOU cannot hold to the the 2nd amendment and reject the seperation of church and State.
    I can see that NCarolina want to secede from the UNION, good luck with that, YOUR little semi automatics will be putty against the Fed Govt Scud misile. When the fighting begins, please do not come to NY, We have enough guns on our streets without adding yours. Also,your Republicans policians have little chance of making ours joint that revolution. Our politicians are too smart and will do nothing to jeopardize the easy gig that they now enjoy in Washington. They may not be rocket scientist but they are smart enough to know that had they introduce this stoopidity , no New Yorker ( including the Republicans ) would ever vote them into office. I am not saying that people of North Carolina are stoopid, just that New Yorkers are smarter.

  9. Doug Gibson

    April 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm


    You say:

    It’s not like they are establishing a state religion

    The bill says:

    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.

    So—they’re saying that they don’t recognize federal court rulings which prohibit the state’s ability to make laws respecting an establishment of religion. Sounds to me like they don’t want any limit on their ability to establish a religion.

    You say:

    Funny how you progressives like to argue the first amendment until someone attempts to enact it to protect speech that you do not like.

    This bill is an attempt to limit the applicability of the first amendment to North Carolina state government. They’re not “enacting” the first amendment to protect speech: they’re nullifying it to give the government a power that the bill of rights (and the 14th amendment) took away. Not one more person will have the right to practice their religion because of this bill. Instead the government will gain the right to practice a religion over the objections of its citizens.

  10. […] North Carolina immune from federal courts’ rulings on constitutional issues. (Read more here.) The lawmakers wanted to show support to Rowan County Commissioners, who are being sued by the […]

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