McDaniel v. Paty - Wikipedia

McDaniel v. Paty
Argued December 5, 1977
Decided April 19, 1978
Full case nameMcDaniel v. Paty
Citations435 U.S. 618 (more)
98 S. Ct. 1322; 55 L. Ed. 2d 593
Case history
PriorPaty v. McDaniel, 547 S.W.2d 897 (Tenn. 1977); probable jurisdiction noted, 432 U.S. 905 (1977).
A state law that forbade ordained ministers from elected office is unconstitutional.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
PluralityBurger, joined by Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens
ConcurrenceBrennan (in judgment), joined by Marshall
ConcurrenceStewart (in judgment)
ConcurrenceWhite (in judgment)
Blackmun took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV

McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978), was a United States Supreme Court case that struck down the last remaining state restriction against religious ministers holding elected office.


McDaniel was a Baptist minister from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He filed as a candidate to be a delegate to the 1977 Tennessee State Constitutional Convention. His opponent successfully challenged his candidacy based on a state law that forbade ordained ministers from elected office.


In an 8–0 decision, the court ruled that the state law violated both the First and Fourteenth Amendments. A modified version of the statute, prohibiting "ministers of the Gospel" from serving in the Tennessee legislature, remains as Article IX, Section 1. of the Tennessee State Constitution.[1]

A measure on the November 2022 ballot proposes to remove this restriction. In accordance with state constitutional law, the proposed amendment was submitted to the state legislature in both the 2019–2020 and 2021–2022 sessions. The measure received nearly universal support and was ratified by the voters. [2]


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