Thursday, May 24, 2007, 8:28 PM

Superior Court Issues Ruling In Religious Oath Case

Today Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway issued a fascinating opinion in the ACLU's complaint that the only religious text made available by the State to swear in witnesses and jurors in NC courtrooms is the Christian Bible. Judge Ridgeway held that the oath may be administered on sacred texts other than the Christian Bible. His opinion, which includes an interesting historical analysis, ultimately turns on stare decisis, based on an 1856 decision of the NC Supreme Court. As for the State's argument that such a ruling would present administrative and practical difficulties--such as requiring courts to maintain a library of religious texts--Judge Ridgeway held that a court may use its inherent power to minimize such difficulties. For example, a court may, as a general policy, require anyone who wishes to be sworn on a sacred text other than the Christian Bible to bring a personal copy to the courtroom. Anyhow, his opinion make for interesting reading.

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