North Carolina Republican lawmakers are making a push to declare an official state religion, introducing a resolution this week that would exempt the state from any federal court ruling involving the First Amendment — or anything else related to the Constitution.
The bill has 11 Republican sponsors in the state’s House of Representatives, including the House Majority Leader, according to WRAL, which first reported the news. Basically, it claims that North Carolina is “sovereign” and thus exempt from any federal court rulings regarding the separation between church and state, including those made by the Supreme Court.
“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.”
It goes on to state that “each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.”
The North Carolina religion resolution is the latest evidence of a rightward shift that is taking place in Republican-led state houses across the country.
With Democrats in control of the White House and Senate, Republican supermajorities in several states have taken it upon themselves to block President Barack Obama’s agenda, pushing through legislation to implement far-right agendas, which, in many cases, seeks to separate individual states from the federal government.
Here are four other examples of laws that have been passed or proposed by Republican state legislators this year:
1. In anticipation of Democrat-led efforts to introduce new federal gun control measures, the Republican-controlled Wyoming House of Representatives voted in January to approve a bill that would make it a crime to enforce any federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.
2. The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted this week to approve a bill that declares the Affordable Care Act “null and void” in the state of Oklahoma.
3. Tea Party-backed lawmakers in Mississippi have proposed legislation that would create a committee that would be authorised to nullify any federal laws that the state does not want to follow. According to the Dispatch, the bill was drafted in response to 23 executive orders issued by Obama on gun control and in preparation for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
4. North Dakota became the first state to effectively ban abortions last month, when Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed legislation that bans abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected — something which can take place as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill, Dalrymple said, represents a “legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”
He also signed another bill that makes the state the first to ban abortions based on genetic defects such as Down Syndrome, as well as bill that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges.
Abortion rights groups have promised a long and costly legal battle to fight the new restrictions.
While some of these laws are likely to be overturned by the courts, together they represent a deepening partisan divide that is happening at the state level. As we reported back in November, the 2012 election brought in Republican supermajorities in 11 states, ushering in powerful one-party governments that are likely to make major tax cuts, slash spending to public education and social programs, and resist the implementation of Obama’s agenda at every turn.
Beyond the immediate policy impact, the deeply partisan state legislatures could have a long-term effect on the GOP, particularly as the party tries to overcome the perception that it is “extreme” and “out-of-touch.”
State legislatures are the breeding ground for candidates at the federal level. If the party’s farm team is made up of politicians who have built their careers around catering to the deep red base, then the GOP could continue to struggle to come up with candidates with statewide — and nationwide — appeal.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.