My State Did What?!: Let’s Forget The Constitution Exists Edition

A record high number of states are now governed solely by a one-party majority – which can then pass whatever legislation it likes. People don’t typically pay attention to state legislative races, and gerrymandered districts enable less-informed voters to pull the straight ticket and vote in all members of one party. The results can be hilarious… and terrifying. This series will focus on the bipartisan foibles of state government, especially around corruption, womens’ health and reproductive rights, and LGBT issues.

Here at My State Did What?!, we love to bring you as many stories in which states forget that the Constitution exists as we can. These are the same states that also like to forget that the Civil War happened, when we decided that states have to follow the rules of the federal Constitution. These are also often the same states that fly the Confederate flag in memoriam of a “way of life” that obviously had NOTHING to do with systematically oppressing Black people by enslaving and raping and robbing and violating their humanity.

Sorry. We got carried away.

Anyway, here comes the crazy. It’s why you’re here. Take it away, North Carolina! Let’s just quote the bill itself, shall we? Cosponsored by nine Republicans, it opens grandly:

“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;…”” 

Okay thus far.

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

Say WHAT now? We fought the Civil War over this, actually. Constitutional law supersedes state law. Carry on…

“The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize Federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina…from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” 

Woo! Let’s establish state religions! How’s that ‘rebranding’ effort going, GOPers? Republicans are moderate! And focused on jobs! And business! And establishing state religions of the sort that the founders of this country were fleeing when they themselves came here. Luckily, the unsurprisingly bad press forced the Speaker to kill the bill as of last night. Still too close for comfort.

Now, on to neighboring Tennessee. History lesson: up until the Progressive movement in the first decade of this century, voters didn’t elect Senators – state legislatures did. In 1913, 3/4 of the States ratified the 17th amendment to the Constitution, which reads:

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.”

Pretty simple, right? You vote for your senator in a direct election. Apparently, not simple enough for Tennessee Republicans. Via the Huffington Post:

“A Tennessee state Senate committee voted Tuesday to advance legislation that would partially end the direct election of U.S. senators in the state.” 

Oh, now you’re just fucking with us.

“The bill would end party primaries for Senate seats and allow the Democratic and Republican caucuses in the state Legislature to pick their party’s nominees for the seats.. “We’ve tried it this way (contested primaries) for 100 years,” (the bill’s sponsor Frank) Niceley told knoxnews.com. “It’s time to try something different.””

‘Different’ is a word. Also, patently unconstitutional. Again, great job with the ‘moderate’ rebranding. It’s stuff like this that really fixes that Republican image problem. Wouldn’t want people to think that Republicans want to go 100 years back in time, would we?

Problem is, they do.

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  1. Frank Niceley says

    Actually, it is perfectly Constitutional. Many states nominate candidates for the US Senate by means other than primary election. Utah does it by party convention, as does Virginia in some instances. My legislation is aimed at taking our state closer to the system of checks and balances envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The difference between a Republic and a Democracy is subtle, but as pronounced as the difference between fine wine and vinegar.