This may end up in GD but I do have specific questions I’d like answered. I was recently sent an article which states among other things:
This law was passed by an overwhelming majority two years ago and has never been challenged. The department receives millions of dollars of federal funding per year. My questions are these:
How did this unconstitutional law get passed in the first place? The state legislature had to know it would eventually be rescinded. Shouldn’t the governor have vetoed?
Now that it’s receiving wider media attention, what is the likelihood of all their federal funding being pulled until such time as the law is struck down or the religious wording removed, and how would the state go about doing so? Would they have to write an entirely new law, or simply re-word the existing one?
State legislatures do this sort of thing all the time. Sometimes they get challenged, and sometimes not. It’s hard to know for sure, but I doubt this would pass the so-called Lemon Test (SCOTUS test based on the court case “Lemon” outlining when religion and the state can intersect).
I doubt that federal funding would be pulled. Someone will most likely need to challenge this in court to get it struck down. I’m not sure what you mean by “re-word the existing one”. I don’t think you re-word an existing law-- you always need to pass a new one (even if it is just a re-write of the old one).
If someone sues over the requirement, it will be struck down. “Publicizing God’s benevolent protection” is as blatant a violation of church and state as you can come up with. “Publicizing God” is the very definition of church activities.
Most likely, no one in a position to sue noticed the clause. They will now.
Of course, only the clauses that require this will be struck down. The rest of the law will presumably be valid. Funding can occur so long as it doesn’t “publicize God.” The plaques will have to go, too.
The Lemon test is becoming increasingly irrelevant, and the Court as presently constituted has shown less inclination to reassert it as the law of the land than previous ones. Anyway, legislators don’t care if their laws are struck down; it’s not as though their stipends are rescinded if they pass bad law.
The Lemon test does not prohibit ceremonial deism- it’s fine for official government documents, money, etc. to mention God, just so long as the Court doesn’t believe they’re talking about a specific god. The question will come down to whether the Court believes the Tennessee legislature was talking about a specific god or not- although given that the author of the amendment is a preacher, they probably will. The likelihood of their funding being pulled (especially under the current administration) is essentially zero, at least absent an injunction.
It’s by no means certain that even the offending clause(s) would be struck down in a hypothetical suit.