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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….

and

“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

Roy Cooper 3North Carolina Attorney General is generally a good guy who has done many good things during his long stint heading the North Carolina Department of Justice, so he is probably entitled to a boneheaded error or two.

If that’s so, however, Cooper more than used up his quota with the ridiculous and wasteful appeal he filed today in the “Choose Life” license plate case.

What in the world is going on?!

That he ever sought to defend this blatantly unconstitutional law giving favored government treatment to the views of anti-abortion advocates in the first place was an extremely questionable decision.

Hello?! Anyone at home over there in the DOJ? Earth to Roy: You are an independently-elected constitutional officer with some discretion in these matters. What if the reactionaries down the street at the General Assembly had passed a law outlawing abortion entirely? Would you have defended that too? What about a law that only permitted Christians to serve in the General Assembly? A law that sought to reinstitute Jim Crow?  Read More

The ACLU of North Carolina issued a new statement today about Chapel Hill’s controversial censorship of bus advertisements: 

ACLU: Chapel Hill Can’t Use Unenforced Policy to Ban Controversial Ad: Constitutional Law Group Says that Using an Unenforced Policy to Ban Controversial Ad Would Constitute Viewpoint Discrimination   

RALEIGH – The recent discovery of an approved bus advertising policy that was never put into effect does not give Chapel Hill officials the constitutional authority to ban a controversial advertisement appearing on city buses, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF). Read More

This was released this morning by the Good folks at the ACLU on North Carolina:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 1, 2012

ACLU-NC to Chapel Hill: Censoring Bus Ads Violates First Amendment

In Letter, Constitutional Law Group Warns Chapel Hill Town Officials that Removing a Bus Ad Because Some Disagree with Its Political Message Would Constitute Content & Viewpoint Discrimination Read More