There are six or seven states where you must believe in god (well, swear on the bible that you believe in god) in order to hold public office.

I may have to boycott the Science Online 2010 conference, because it is in one of those states!

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Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    December 15, 2009

    Ah, that’s Asheville, the liberal enclave that votes for Kucinich every four years. It’s their town clown. The elected guy’s already seated and any legal challenge will be laughed out of court. Perhaps such a trial is needed to finally purge this old law from the NC books, as it is obviously unconstitutional and unenforceable. Read http://johnmckay.blogspot.com/2009/12/defending-nc-from-godless.html and http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/12/ashville_please_join_us_in_the.php

  2. #2 Coturnix
    December 15, 2009

    Darn. Two URLs. Spam Folder….

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    December 15, 2009

    This almost certainly would change the state constitution. The ACLU has a list. This is on it. It is just a matter of somebody deciding to step in it.

  4. #4 mikey.duhhh
    December 15, 2009

    What the heck happened to the 24 hour thingy. I get 10 posts and nothing else. If this doesn’t change, goodbye to finding interesting posts.

    And that means you better find me, not me finding you. Sounds pretty bad for your future, if you know what I mean.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    December 15, 2009

    I don’t know. I’ve reported it to HQ. I think some blogger has some bad code which is screwing it up.

  6. #6 Joshua Zelinsky
    December 15, 2009

    There are lots of rules on the books in many states which are either simply not enforced because they are stupid or are uneforceable because they are unconstitutional (such as this one). I really wouldn’t worry about it. Legislators have more important things to do with their time than to take out rules that don’t have any effect anyways.

  7. #7 Pedant
    December 15, 2009

    The (pre-amendment) U.S. constitution, article VI, section 3, clearly outlaws such rules at a state level:

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    N.C. voided that section of their own state constitution (enacted December 1776) when they ratified the U.S. constitution on November 21, 1789.

  8. #8 Mxh
    December 15, 2009

    Legislators have more important things to do with their time than to take out rules that don’t have any effect anyways.

    really? Like making nonbinding resolutions? Or taking half the year off?

  9. #9 Unconstitutionality
    December 15, 2009

    Re comment #9: The (pre-amendment) U.S. constitution, article VI, section 3, clearly outlaws such rules at a state level:

    This is not true.

    It is, of course, true that such religious test laws are unenforceable as a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment as applied to the states by the fourteenth amendment, as decided by the supreme court in 1961 in Torcaso v. Watkins.

    However, article VI, section 3 of the constitution only bans such religious tests “to any office or public trust under the United States”, i.e., federal government positions. Article VI, section 3 does say that the requirement of an oath or affirmation to support the constitution applies to offices “both of the United States and of the several States”; the religious test clause applies only to offices “under the United States”. The Supreme Court has never, to my knowledge, ruled that the religious test clause of article VI, section 3 applies to the states; in Torcaso they only decided that such state tests were unenforceable under the first and fourteenth amendments; the applicability of the article VI, section 3 prohibition was before the court and they declined to rule on it.

    While one can argue that it does apply, such an argument ignores the language and the history of the constitution, and is unsupported by case law, and at any rate it does not “clearly” outlaw such tests, and almost certainly does not ban them at all.

  10. #10 abb3w
    December 15, 2009

    Irony: the debate of the North Carolina Convention on the adoption of the Federal Constitution is cited in footnote 10 of Torcaso v. Watkins.

  11. #11 Lance
    December 16, 2009

    I suspect that the people raising the issue are “playing to the choir” so to speak. They are probably well aware that they aren’t going to win a legal battle on the issue but I doubt that is there objective.

    Self-righteous demagogues are certainly a prolific indigenous species in North Carolina. Pointing the finger at a “godless atheist” is probably a good career move for certain strains of political animal in many parts of the bible belt.

  12. #12 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 16, 2009

    I fail to understand how this is being raised by anybody but a sore loser who couldn’t stand that the voters didn’t like him. Yes, he is using the atheism as a legal means to get a new election and maybe win without his nemesis on the ballot, but the real motivation behind it is for a conservative to get on the council.

    Religion in politics is another tool for power, and a reason that we should go back to respecting both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

    The move to oust him will fail and never go to the NC Supreme Court nor the U.S. Supreme Court.

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    December 16, 2009

    Lance 131: “I said that given only the facts of the example, the formal qualifications endowed the two guys, one had no choice but to use authority as the only possible criterion.” Then you misunderstand the meaning of authority, and that would be a big problem in understanding the whole point here.

    You may have to go back to all the places you got this wrong on the internet and revise.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    December 16, 2009

    Interesting that my comment ended up here in stead of over there.

  15. #15 Neil B.
    December 16, 2009

    I think it is scandalous and an outrage, that belief about God be a test for public office in this nation. (In any, but certain nations – you know – will demand that.) How ironic, that same attitude from some Christians is the same as whom they say are this nation’s biggest enemies, the zealous Muslims.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    December 16, 2009

    Unconstitutionality: You are correct that the first amendment is what was applied in actual cases, and it is interesting that Maddow made this goof. In one case Article VI was explicitly noted as having NOT been applied, not because it could not have applied but because the judges didn’t want to consider it’s application at that time … so the relationship between Article VI and this issue was explicitly left ambiguous.

    However, it is also true that Article VI as a whole (including the preceding bits) has been used in federal cases as the basis of disallowing special oaths (at the federal level) and this text is generally thought to reflect the desires of the founders to have a secular system. So, the avoidance of Article VI is not because it could not be involved in a decision but because the burden has been placed on the Establishment Clause.

    That does not conflict at all with what you are saying, but it is important to note that this is one of those cases where if the founders were brought forward in a time machine and shown the NC case, the would have a WTF? moment.

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