State politicans, religious leaders violate state constitution

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DRESDEN, Tenn. — Politicians defy the state constitution without even knowing it. Roy Herron spent 25 years in Nashville as a lawmaker. He also is an attorney and ordained Methodist minister, which means his time in Nashville defied the state constitution. Herron said he knew he was breaking Article 9 Section 1 of the Tennessee State Constitution when he ran for office, which prohibits ministers from serving in the legislature, but he said it did not bother him. “I knew what the law was,” Herron told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Friday. “The court had spoken, and on my priority list that was pretty far down to be honest, compared to the things that affect people day in and day out.” The provision falls just before another that prohibits atheists from taking any public office in the Volunteer State. Herron said both articles have since been deemed unconstitutional but still remain in the Tennessee State Constitution even though they are not enforced. Herron has served both in the House of Representatives and as a State Senator in the state of Tennessee, but he said these kinds of things staying in our constitution will not be changing any time soon. “If you have a state constitutional convention for amending the constitution to clean up those provisions that are no longer valid or are no longer seen as valid, but to the best of my knowledge no one has proposed to take that provision out, and probably they won’t,” Herron said. As a former minister turned politician himself, Herron said maybe it is not a bad idea after all. “I think there are also people who believe that given the problem in the legislature nowadays, it wouldn’t hurt them to have a few more ministers right at hand,” Herron said. Herron said to his knowledge there still are a number of religious leaders serving in the state legislature, including Rep. Johnny Shaw, who currently is serving part of Hardeman, Haywood and Madison counties.

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