Cross-posted at dKos
Back on Thursday, I mentioned the saga of Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell. Some fundies over there want to bounce him from office because he's an atheist--and cite a provision in the state constitution that requires you to profess belief in God in order to hold office. Never mind that this provision is unenforceable due to numerous provisions of the federal Constitution (Article VI, the Supremacy Clause and the 1st and 14th Amendments). The Asheville City Council didn't back down, and Bothwell was duly sworn in.
But yesterday, the fundies vowed to press on.
One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell's appointment.
"My father was a Baptist minister. I'm a Christian man. I have problems with people who don't believe in God," said Edgerton, a former local NAACP president and founder of Southern Heritage 411, a group that promotes the interests of black Southerners.
The only question here, in my view, is how soon a judge will tell Edgerton to go fly a kite.
I know that a lot of people may think that there aren't many judges in North Carolina who can throw this out and still keep their jobs. But assuming Edgerton (who is well known to be a fruit loop--see his Wikipedia article) has the stones to take this all the way to the federal Supreme Court, it's inconceivable that any judge will be willing to effectively gut the 14th Amendment.
The larger issue here, to my mind, is how embarrassing it is that we're even having this discussion in 2009. This provision was carried over from the 1868 state constitution into the current 1971 document--a full decade after the federal Supremes threw out a similar provision in the Maryland. It doesn't matter if it can't be enforced. The fact this clause is still there makes North Carolina look horrible. In fact, it's almost as bad as the few Jim Crow provisions that are still in a few Southern state constitutions even though it's common knowledge they can't be enforced.
The question here, as I see it, is whether anyone in the state legislature will have the backbone to either propose an amendment that would remove it. The only way to find out is if those of us here in North Carolina write our state reps and senators and demand action. I've never written my state legislators before, as admittedly I've been focused a lot on federal issues. But if there is ever a reason to do so, this is it.