Religious Tests 2 – Torcaso v. Watkins

I wanted to add that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [1]

While it was stated that Article 37 of the Maryland Constitution “prohibits the state from denying a public position to an individual based on his or her religious belief, with the exception that the state may require the individual to affirmatively state his or her belief in the existence of God”, the rule extrapolated from the opinion in Torcaso tells us that a required declaration in a belief in a God as a prerequisite to holding office is considered a religious test and is a violation of Article six of the U.S. Constitution. [2] In addition, we can see evidence of a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in that Article 37 deprives a candidate who refuses to declare a belief in a God the privilege to serve in an office in which the candidate had obviously survived all prerequisite scrutiny except for the unconstitutional religious test. When this religious test does categorize those as being qualified to serve and those not qualified to serve, the test in effect serves to deny equal protection under the law in that the requirement of a religious test serves to grant privilege only to people who are willing to declare a belief in a God.

[1] U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

[2] Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 489 - 490 (1961).


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