First Amendment Doesn't Apply Here
It’s really been a banner week for Republican politicians … and it’s only Wednesday:
Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have introduced a bill declaring that the state has the power to establish an official religion — a direct challenge to the First Amendment.
The bill says that federal courts do not have the power to decide what is constitutional, and says the state does not recognize federal court rulings that prohibit North Carolina and its schools from favoring a religion.
Here’s my favorite quote, from a political science professor at Catawba College, that situates the idea behind the bill in the proper context:
“We saw this in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education,” he said, referencing the integration ruling. “The belief is that the states hold more power than the federal government. If the federal government does something, the states can simply ignore it.”
The bill will obviously fail, whether immediately or under review.
But the whole notion behind it — that it’s acceptable for the state to establish a religion or, more broadly, that a state doesn’t have to pay any attention to federal rulings — is unquestionably disturbing and can’t really be something the GOP wants to champion at any level, can it?