Greensboro News & Record columnist Susan Ladd does a great job of skewering state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s ridiculous “religious freedom” for magistrates legislation today in this essay.
“It’s appalling that the first order of business for our state legislature would be to reinstate Jim Crow. Or should we call it James Crow? Jane Crow? Jim Crow 2.0?
Discrimination by any name smells just as sour.
But discrimination is precisely what the bill introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) allows. Currently titled the Magistrates Recusal of Civil Ceremonies, the bill falls under the general heading of “religious freedom” laws sweeping the country after the legalization of same-sex marriage in many states.”
She goes on:
“Though this bill is narrower in scope than ‘religious freedom’ laws that have been attempted in other states, it still legislates discrimination and limits the rights of groups that could be targeted by a religious objection….
Because this bill doesn’t specify, however, magistrates presumably would be free to recuse themselves from performing other marriages that violated their religious beliefs. Religion is a very malleable thing, having been used to object to all kinds of practices. But let’s take an obvious case.
A magistrate opposed to interracial marriage simply could cite the passage used by the Virginia circuit court judge in 1959, when he convicted Richard and Mildred Loving of the crime of interracial marriage.”
Here’s the excellent conclusion:
“The state, at the behest of Berger, already is wasting taxpayers’ dollars fighting in the courts to reinstate Amendment One, with little to no chance of success. Now he’s proposing another unconstitutional law that also very likely would be overturned after a court battle at taxpayers’ expense.
The state spent at least $1.2 million in taxpayers’ money last year on private attorneys to fight battles that normally would reside with the attorney general’s office. Attorney General Roy Cooper said last year he no longer would oppose challenges to the state’s gay marriage ban.
Meanwhile, more than 255,000 North Carolinians need a job. Schools are desperately underfunded. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians have no health care because the state has refused to expand Medicaid. The state is facing a $200 million budget shortfall that could increase.
And still Berger keeps fiddling away while the flames grow higher.”