Courts & the Law, News

Entire federal court of appeals will reconsider Rowan County prayer case

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will reconsider a case about the Rowan County Board of Commissioners’ current prayer policy.

The en banc review was granted in response to the ACLU of North Carolina asking the federal court to reconsider after a 2-1 ruling in September that reversed a U.S. District Court decision holding that the county’s state sponsored prayers violated the Constitution.

That panel decision is now vacated and all 15 judges on the federal court will review the lower court’s ruling.

“We’re very pleased that the full Fourth Circuit has agreed to review this practice that is clearly out of step with the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NC, which represents three Rowan County residents in a challenge to the commissioners’ policy. “When people attend meetings of their local government, they should not have to worry about being coerced to participate in a sectarian prayer that goes against their beliefs and being discriminated against by local officials when they don’t.”

In a dissent to the Fourth Circuit’s September ruling, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote that the facts in Rowan County are a “conceptual world apart” from an invocation practice previously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Town of Greece v. Galloway.

“The message actually delivered in this case was not one of welcome but of exclusion,” he wrote. “It is the combination of the role of the commissioners, their instructions to the audience, their invocation of a single faith, and the local governmental setting that threatens to blur the line between church and state to a degree unimaginable in Town of Greece.”

For more about the case, click here.

Check Also

Wake County judge: Voter ID challenge can move forward in courts

A state constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s new ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Fifty-one duplicate invoices. At least $20,000 in excess payments. And one nonprofit receiving a dis [...]

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Thom Tillis made a stunning reversal on Thursday, declaring he would support Pres [...]

Rainwater monitoring conducted by state environmental regulators show one detection of a type of per [...]

North Carolina lawmakers are debating two proposals that would direct state money to fund long overd [...]

The post Profiles in courage…and cowardice appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

It’s Sunshine Week, and things have never been gloomier for the newspaper industry. This year’s annu [...]

Gov. Roy Cooper is an enormously skilled politician with a top-flight staff and many years of experi [...]

The post For a few dollars more… appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]