The very first amendment to the Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Over time, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Establishment Clause, as it’s known, also forbids any level of government — federal, state, or local — from showing preference for one religion over another. But who made the Supreme Court king? According to some state lawmakers in North Carolina, nobody, that’s who! They’re pushing a resolution that would assert North Carolina isn’t bound by the Establishment Clause because the Constitution “does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional.” (Presumably, then, all other Supreme Court decisions are invalid as well.)
The motivation behind the bill is a dispute between the ACLU and the commissioners of Rowan County, who like to start their public meetings with an explicitly Christian prayer. After its warnings were ignored, the ACLU sued Rowan County last month on behalf of a handful of non-Christian, now-friendless citizens.
The South has a long history, obviously, of defiantly ignoring federal laws and court rulings that it doesn’t support, from tariffs to desegregation. But one of the resolution’s original sponsors doesn’t exactly sound like a revolutionary:
[State representative Henry] Warren said the proclamation focused on a “literal interpretation” of the First Amendment and was meant to show support for commissioners, not to assert a need for local sovereignty.
“This is, on my part, more of a demonstration of support more than an effort to have the courts revisit everything,” Warren said…
“I didn’t expect it to go anywhere” …
“I didn’t expect it to go anywhere” is destined to become the most memorable quote of Civil War II.