Motions to dismiss a lawsuit against God by Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers have been filed.
Lawsuits against God have tended to be dismissed either because of an inability to serve the complaint on the Defendant (court rules require the service of the complaint on the defendant); or lack of personal jurisdiction by the court; or improper venue.
The papers filed on God’s behalf also allege that Senator Chambers, a non-believer, is barred by the doctrine of equitable estoppel from suing God, after a lifetime of denying that God even exists.
Chambers sought a permanent injunction against God to prevent him from causing destruction or death on Earth. However, his complaint did not allege that he personally is at any greater risk of being harmed by God than any other Earthling.
Thus, it is not clear why Chambers has standing to sue God, since he articulates merely a generalized grievance.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. E.P.A. (2007), which allowed states to sue over global warming, it would have been clear that Chambers lacks a sufficiently personal stake in the lawsuit to have standing to sue God.
Chambers probably still lacks standing to sue God even after that decision, since it was based on the special prerogative of states to bring suit. Relying on a novel reading of its 1907 Tennessee Copper decision, the Supreme Court held that states can sue for widely-shared harms that an individual citizen might lack standing to sue over.
Chambers, however, doesn’t purport to be speaking for the State of Nebraska as a whole, nor does he possess a state attorney general’s authority to represent the state in litigation.
Indeed, Chambers is a gadfly who has previously sued the State of Nebraska. He is perhaps most famous for losing Marsh v. Chambers (1983), in which the Supreme Court rejected his challenge under the Constitution’s Establishment Clause to the State of Nebraska’s employment of a legislative chaplain.
More importantly, Chambers’s suit fails the constitutional requirement for standing, that a harm be judicially redressible before it can be challenged in a lawsuit. It would be an exercise in futility for an earthly court to order God to do anything.
Another interesting question is whether God, as ruler of the universe, enjoys sovereign immunity against Chambers’s complaint. The Eleventh Amendment literally only bars a suit against a state by citizens of a different state, but the Supreme Court has read it as ratifying a much broader, pre-existing principle of sovereign immunity that bars suits against a state by even its own citizens, and as well as suits by Indian tribes and foreign principalities. Moreover, the archaic doctrine of sovereign immunity is rooted in the immunity once conferred on the Kings of England, who were deemed to rule with divine sanction. It would be anomalous to shield God’s representatives and agents from suit, but not God Himself.