By: David Bloomberg Re: S. Carolina Rel. Test UnConstitutional From _Church + State_, Octo

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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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