Suing the Almighty

'God' doesn't exist. We all know this. Nonetheless, allegedly atheist Nebraska State Representative Ernie Chambers has seen fit to sue His Omnipotence for various tortious wrongs.

This article wastes most of its column inches detailing the various charges levied against The Everlasting, only mentioning in passing Chambers' alleged point:

[H]is main objection is the constitution requires that the doors to the courthouse be open to all.
Apparently, Chambers is trying to make a point about frivolous lawsuits. It would have been nice if the article would have spent a little more time explaining how Chambers intends this lawsuit to make that point.

I do not think legislators, of any level of government, should engage in sarcasm. I also do not find sarcasm a persuasive argument, nor do I think the courts should play host to such arguments. If Chambers' point is that the courts are overburdened with frivolous lawsuits, filing a frivolous lawsuit isn't going to help the problem. Chambers should do his job and introduce legislation to strip some jurisdiction from the Nebraska courts.

I would be interested to hear Chambers' opinion on how court jurisdiction should be limited in order to prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits. Whatever it is, I doubt it would work. If he's arguing jurisdiction, maybe he should have thought more about how he chose to do so. His lawsuit is frivolous first and foremost because of a lack of jurisdiction. God cannot be served in Nebraska. Cf. U.S. ex rel. Mayo v. Satan, 54 F.R.D. 282, 282 (W.D. Pa. 1971) (finding that Satan could not be served anywhere in the United States). I would suggest that a large number of frivolous lawsuits are in fact filed despite a lack of jurisdiction. So narrowing the jurisdiction of the Nebraska courts would not be likely to have any effect on the quantity of frivolous lawsuits filed there. They would still be filed, and they would still be dismissed by one of the gatekeeper rules (analogous of Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)).

The lawsuit Chambers objected to, and which apparently set him off, was (as far as can be speculated from the scant information available on the Interwebs) a civil suit against Nebraska district judge Jeffre Cheuvront for (guessing here) emotional distress stemming from his 2006 decision granting a defense motion to prohibit the use of the word "rape" (inter alia) during a rape trial. Now I'm no expert on Nebraska's Tort Claims Act, but I think this suit would die for failure to state a claim. Tort Claims Acts generally protect government officials from personal tort liability arising from actions committed within the scope of their government duties. And his decision on the motion would only be reviewable under an abuse of discretion standard on appeal, so any question of whether Cheuvront was acting within that scope would depend intimately on any appeals of the motion. No such appeal appears to be in the works, but even if one were, it wouldn't be ripe because the first jury hung, so there is no final judgment from which to appeal.

So as far as I can tell, Chambers' position here is simply, "That's rubbish; there ought to be a law." Unfortunately for Nebraskans, Chambers has the power to act on this position.

Tom G Varik