By: David Bloomberg Re: S. Carolina Rel. Test UnConstitutional From _Church + State_, Octo
By: David Bloomberg
Re: S. Carolina Rel. Test UnConstitutional
From _Church & State_, October 1995:
South Carolina Religious Test Unconstitutional, Court Rules
A South Carolina law requiring public officials to express belief in God is
unconstitutional, a state court has ruled.
The lawsuit was brought by Herb Silverman, an atheist who teaches math at
the College of Charleston. Silverman applied to become a notary public in 1992
and in his application crossed out the reference to the deity in the oath, "So
help me God." Aided by the American Civil Liberties Union, Silverman filed
suit after his application was denied.
"The state cannot require any religious belief including a call for 'God's
help,'" Fifth Circuit Judge Thomas L. Hughston, Jr. ruled Aug. 2. "The fact
that Mr. Silverman struck the word 'God' from his application cannot
constitutionally be a reason to deny his appointment." Hughston gave Gov.
David Beasley 30 days to respond to Silverman's petition.
Beasley asked Hughston to reconsider the ruling, but the judge refused.
Beasley, who was elected with heavy Christian Coalition support, must either
grant Silverman the license or order the case appealed to the South Carolina
Supreme Court. (Silverman v. Campbell)
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down religious tests for public office in the
1961 Torcaso v. Watkins case. That case was brought by a Maryland man who sued
the state after he was denied a notary public's license because he refused to
declare belief in the existence of God.
* Origin: The mentally stunted turn morally rabid. (1:2430/2112)
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