Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have proposed a bill that would allow the state to declare an official religion, a seeming violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The bill aims to protect against any federal ruling that would prohibit Christian prayer by public bodies statewide, WRAL.com notes.
“The legislation grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers,” the report explains.
Filed by two GOP lawmakers on Tuesday, and backed by nine other Republicans, the Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013 argues that each state “is sovereign” and that courts have no right to block them “from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
“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 bill reads.
“Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion,” it adds.
The bill also argues that the Tenth Amendment prohibits courts from applying the First Amendment to state and local officials.
“[B]y virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, 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 bill states.
The bill reads:
SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.
SECTION 2. 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.
Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) are the bill’s main sponsors. They are joined by North Carolina House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes (R-Hickory), Budget Chairman Justin Burr (R-Stanly), and Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Concord).
Here’s a copy of House Bill 494:
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
(H/T: Huffington Post). Featured image Getty Images.