Lingering Legal Discrimination Against Atheists and Agnostics
At one time or another, many states have had laws, often enshrined in state constitutions, to the effect that atheists and agnostics could not hold state office and/or that atheist and agnostics could not testify in court. You might well imagine that, by now, all of those prohibitions have been eliminated. On that you would be wrong.
Professor Allan Vestal, formally of the University of Kentucky College of Law (where he was as well Dean) and now with Drake University College of Law has published an article which, while reviewing the numerous decisions in which the enforcement of these constitutional provisions was struck down, nevertheless notes that these limitations continue to exist in the laws of certain states. Allan W. Vestal, The Lingering Bigotry of State Constitution Religious Tests, 15 University of Maryland Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class 55-120 (2015).
Notwithstanding that, ultimately, they may not be enforceable, Professor Vestal notes that the lingering presence of these provisions could have negative consequences. On a limited basis, they may preclude persons from running for public office simply because they do not want to have to face the possibility of a state constitutional limitation being cited against them. He argues (correctly) that states should not be drawing distinctions between citizens, indicating that some are in some manner or another less equal than are others. He recommends that those states with these lingering constitutional provisions should eliminate them.
HERE IS A LINK to that article.
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