As reported by the New York Times in “Constitution Experts Denounce Oklahoma Judge’s Sentencing of Youth to Church“, Judge Mike Norman (Oklahoma) recently sentenced a teen DUI offender to 10 years of regular church attendance. Forgoing the obvious jokes about this sentence being worse that prison it should be clear to anybody with a Junior High School level understanding of the constitution that this is patently illegal. Amazing this judge reached his position without this basic understanding. When asked about the ruling he said:
“I feel like church is important. I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that.” He followed later with, “I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.” and “I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”
Constitution Daily delves into the issue much more clearly than we ever could in their excellent article, “Constitution Check: Can a judge send a criminal to church instead of prison?” Spoiler: the answer is “no”. One of the foundational aspects of the Constitution is that it prevents government from either compelling or prohibiting religious practice in any way.
Judge Norman is, if we may be so bold, clearly an unschooled idiot. For this reason we can find no true malice in his actions. He did use his position to unlawful force his religious views on others however and we find that we must sadly find him guilty of Dumbassery in the First Degree. We sentence him to actually read the Constitution (or at least the Cliff Notes version).