Republican Taliban Alive and Well in North Carolina

Back in March, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against North Carolina’s Rowan County Board of Commissioners. The lawsuit alleges that the Board of Commissioners unconstitutionally opens almost all of its meetings with a Christian prayer. According to an ACLU press release announcing the lawsuit,

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, details how more than 97 percent of board meetings since 2007 have been opened with prayers specific to one religion, Christianity.

“I want my local government to be open and welcoming to people of all beliefs,” said Nan Lund, a Salisbury resident who is one of three plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. “But when officials begin a public meeting with prayers that are specific to only one religious viewpoint, I feel unwelcome and excluded.”

The commissioners, who deliver the prayers themselves, routinely call on Jesus Christ and refer to other sectarian beliefs during invocations. Opening invocations have declared that “there is only one way to salvation, and that is Jesus Christ,” as well as given thanks for the “virgin birth,” the “cross at Calvary,” and “the resurrection.”

The lawsuit did not go over well with some North Carolina legislators who decided the best solution would be to craft a joint resolutions in favor of the establishment of a state religion in North Carolina. Specifically, the resolution maintains that U.S. Supreme Court rulings relating to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause do not apply to North Carolina:

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA SESSION 2013

H1

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 494

Sponsors:

Representatives Ford and Warren (Primary Sponsors).

For a complete list of Sponsors, refer to the North Carolina General Assembly Web Site.

Referred to:

Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.

April 2, 2013

A JOINT RESOLUTION to proclaim the Rowan county, North Carolina, Defense of Religion Act of 2013.

Whereas, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:”…Congress shall make no law respecting an Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”; and

Whereas, this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools; and

Whereas, in recent times, the federal judiciary has incorporated states, municipalities, and schools into the Establishment Clause prohibitions on Congress; and

Whereas, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

Whereas, the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States prohibits the federal government and prohibits the federal courts from expanding the powers of the federal government beyond those powers which are explicitly enumerated; 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; therefore, by 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; and

Whereas, each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion; and

Whereas, Rowan County, North Carolina, asserts that the protections afforded to citizens of the United States under the First Amendment are not in any way to be abridged when such citizens become government actors by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement; and

Whereas, Rowan County, North Carolina, requests and encourages the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a resolution declaring that the State of North Carolina does not recognize the authority of federal judicial opinions arising from the exertion of powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

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.

SECTION 3. This resolution is effective upon ratification.

The resolution brought a lot of ridicule and embarrassment to the North Carolina legislature. Just a few days after it was introduced, North Carolina’s Speaker of the House Republican Thom Tillis pulled the resolution.

That did not prevent one last unbelievable exchange between North Carolina state Rep. Michele Presnell, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution, and one of her constituents.

In an email exchange, the constituent wondered if Presnell would like it if a Muslim prayer was said before the start of a public meeting in North Carolina, to which Presnell allegedly responded,

No, I do not condone terrorism.

North Carolina State Senator Introduces Hunter’s Bill of Rights

In March, North Carolina State Senator David Hoyle introduced a bill in that state’s legislature that would add a hunter’s bill of rights to that states laws which, among other things, explicitly holds that animals are property and that any laws or regulations in North Carolina may hold otherwise.

The language of Senate Bill 918 reads that,

The General Assembly finds that animals are property, whether the animals are domesticated animals owned by persons or wildlife resources held in trust for all citizens. No law, local ordinance, rule, or regulation shall seek to establish or attempt to grant to animals any rights of persons under the law. No statute, local ordinance, rule, or regulation shall have as its philosophical basis the concept that animals are entitled to the legal justice to which persons are entitled, or that animals have the rights of persons under the law.

In addition to holding hunting, fishing and trapping as a right in North Carolina,

Hunting, trapping, and fishing, including the taking of wild animals, wild birds, and fish, are a valued part of the heritage of this State, are a fundamental right of the people, and shall be forever preserved for the people.

The law also explicitly bans any sort of hunt saboteur activities,

It is unlawful for a person to interfere intentionally with the lawful taking of wildlife resources or to drive, harass, or intentionally disturb any wildlife resources for the purpose of disrupting the lawful taking of wildlife resources. It is unlawful for a person to intentionally distract or displace, or attempt to distract or displace, a hunting dog while that dog is running, hunting, on point, or in training. It is unlawful to take or abuse property, equipment, or hunting dogs that are being used for the lawful taking of wildlife resources. This subsection does not apply to a person who incidentally interferes with the taking of wildlife resources while using the land for other lawful activity such as agriculture, mining, or recreation. This subsection also does not apply to activity by a person on land he owns or leases.

The full text of North Carolina Senate Bill 918 can be read here.

Bob Barker Gives More Money to Establish Animal Rights Law Programs

Bob Barker was busy in December endowing yet more animal rights law programs at major universities.

Barker gave $1 million each to both the Duke University School of Law and Columbia Law School to create animal rights law programs.

At Duke Law School, according to a press release,

The Barker fund will support teaching at Duke Law School in the growing field of animal rights law, including opportunities for students to work for course credit on cases involving compliance with state animal cruelty laws and other forms of animal rights advocacy. North Carolina is the only state that allows individuals and citizens’ organizations to seek injunctions against violators of the state’s animal cruelty laws.

At Columbia, according to the law school,

Mr. Barker’s gift will support current initiatives into animal rights law, as well as open up possibilities in which the Law School will draw on its wealth of resources and contacts to develop future endeavors.

During the 2005-06 academic year, for example, the gift will be used to enlist the services of David Wolfson ’93, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, to teach a class on animal rights. Mr. Wolfson represents, on a pro bono basis, groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He also has published on animal rights law and has taught classes on the subject at several law schools.

There was also speculation that Barker may donate a similar amount to the University of Michigan Law School.

Sources:

Bob Barker awards Columbia Law School $1 million to support the study of animal rights. Press Release, Columbia Law School, December 2004.

TV Personality Bob Barker Donates to Duke Law School for Animal Rights Law Study. Press Release, Duke Law School, December 6, 2004.

Animal rights law program may expand. Laura Van Hyfte, The Michigan Daily, January 10, 2005.

Are Animals Unnatural?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals lecturers Gary Yourofsky and Kate Timko visited Roanoake Rapids, North Carolina this week in order to offer dietary advice for residents there — including the suggestion that it’s wrong to eat animals because they are not natural.

Yourofsky told a group at a local community college that, “We are not meat-eating creatures. We’re all born vegans.” He then went on about the supposed health problems related to eating meat.

To which Timko offered some odd advice, according to the Roanoake Daily Herald,

Folks, eat what comes from the ground. It is natural.

Does she mean that only plants are natural? Or that humans eating meat is unnatural, despite the fact that hominids have been doing it for as long as 2.5 million years?

The only unnatural thing here seems to be the ridiculous hoops that animal rights activists jump through to convince people not to eat meat (which probably explains their lack of success).

Source:

HCC students encouraged to go vegan. Jennifer Heaslip, Daily Herald (Roanoake Rapids, North Carolina), April 28, 2004.