On August 12th, the AHA (American Humanist Association) sent a letter to Hall County, GA school superintendent demanding that Chestatee High School “terminate this (the football team praying) and any similar illegal activity immediately.”  If they did not comply, the AHA threatened to sue them, “for damages, an injunction, and attorneys.”

This provides a perfect opportunity for nullification action at the local level. And it’s a simple process. Just keep praying.

The AHA cited numerous legal cases, the oldest being in 1947, with Everson vBoard of Education where the Supreme Court ruled in a five to four split decision ruled that public moneys could not be spent in schools where religion was practiced.  This would include Chestatee High School.

The AHA argued that, “The Establishment Clause ‘create[s] a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religion activity and civil authority.” Everson v. Bd. of Ed, 330 U.S. 1, 31-32 (1947).”

Everson was the oldest case but the AHA cited many other more recent cases supporting their argument against the football team praying. The local response? Students, parents, and supporters to gather together to pray about the situation.

At the time of this writing, the spokespeople for the Hall County Schools say they are studying the complaint but do not have a response at this point. The logic of the AHA suit is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says no law shall be made, “respecting an establishment of religion.”  Taxpayer funded public schools are considered part of government.  The AHA reasons that, as such, there can be no public school prayer as this is the establishment of a religious practice.

This may be true, but the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights actually begins with the word “Congress.”  It says that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is obvious and indisputable that the original meaning of the First Amendment was only to apply to the federal government.  It was five out of nine government paid lawyers of the Supreme Court in Emerson v. Board of Education who voted that the First Amendment applied to the states. They used a creative interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, eighty years after it was ratified, to justify this.  This ruling occurred only ten years after Franklin D. Roosevelt corrupted the Supreme Court with, “a switch in time saves nine.”

If the Hall County school board consults with attorneys, they most likely will advise that the football team comply with the AHA demand that they stop openly praying.  However, there is another course of action for them to follow known as nullification.  With this, a state, county, city, or school district can declare a federal law or Supreme Court ruling not pursuant to the Constitution.  It is therefore null and void and not to be followed. The U.S. Constitution is a contract between the states and the federal government.  The Constitution is the supreme law of the land for those laws that are “pursuant to the Constitution.”  There is nothing in the contract that implies the Supreme Court has the final word.  The states have as much right to interpret the constitution and nullify unconstitutional laws as the supreme Court.

To attempt nullification, all the Hall County School has to do is do nothing.

Most likely, the AHA will follow through on their threat and sue.  The Hall County School District should continue to do nothing.  Do not respond to the federal lawsuit.  Most likely the federal judge from a lower federal court will issue an injunction for the football team to stop praying. Attorney General Sam Olens could enter the fray by having the State of Georgia join the lawsuit.  If this happened, according to Article III, Section 2, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, those cases in, “which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.”  The Supreme Court could take the decisions of Everson v. Bd. of Ed. under consideration but does not have to follow precedence, as the lower courts should. In other words, the Supreme Court could eliminate this judicial nonsense of ruling that “Congress shall make no law” really means, “any level of government shall make no law.”

If there is an injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court or a lower court, the football team should ignore this and continue praying.

Now the question that arises is who is going to stop them from praying.  If the local governments and Governor Deal cooperate with the federal government and tell the football team to stop praying then the nullification effort has most likely failed. If the State of Georgia opt for non-cooperation with the federal government, then it is up to the executive branch of federal government to enforce the ruling.

If they use physical force by sending armed federal agents to stop the praying, I would suggest the team not openly pray while the federal forces are present. However, the media spectacle of federal agents stopping the prayer of high school students would likely add support for the cause.  When the federal agents are not present, I would suggest that the football team resume their open praying.

Bert Loftman

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