Friday, December 11, 2009

No atheists allowed.

A man who was elected to the Asheville, North Carolina City Council may be denied his seat because he is an atheist.

Apparently, the NC Constitution prohibits those who don't believe in God from holding office.

On the other hand, the U.S. Constitution says that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I lean toward interpreting "under the United States" to refer to federal offices, meaning NC would have the authority to set its own requirements for office. I'll admit, however, that the meaning is vague and that my strong federalist tendencies may be directing my interpretation.

This is an interesting legal question, but I suspect it is purely academic. It will ultimately be decided that this man can hold office, not based on any valid constitutional reasoning, but because that is the desired outcome. We have long lived in an age where it's acceptable to first identify the desired outcome, then divine (pun intended) a constitutional interpretation that supports that outcome.

Sad, that.

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