Rowan Co NC Commissioners Vote to Appeal Prayer Ruling to SCOTUS

Same issues as Somervell County Commissioners Court

Rowan Co NC Commissioners Vote to Appeal Prayer Ruling to SCOTUS

11 October 2017 at 12:36:04 PM

Have been following the Rowan Co NC prayer lawsuit in which Rowan Co NC commissioners, from the dais, offered up partisan  (better, government sponsored sectarian) prayer during commissioners court sessions. In July, the 4th Circuit en banc panel ruled 10-5 that the commissioners prayer practices were unconstitutional. The issue was whether it makes a difference that the prayers were given by the commissioners themselves and whether the invitation for the audience to join them in prayer is coercive.  Rowan Co NC held a meeting last night to decide whether to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court and unanimously voted in favor. From the Salisbury Post

The most recent ruling was in July, when a 4th Circuit en banc panel ruled 10-5 that the commissioners’ prayer practices were unconstitutional.

Now that the commissioners have voted to appeal that July ruling, the case will move to the Supreme Court. It may choose not to hear the case, which would mean that the July ruling would stand.

Here is the ACLU's comment 

“The bottom line is that local government meetings should be welcoming to all community members, regardless of their religious beliefs. The issues in this case have already been thoroughly reviewed by two federal courts, which agreed that Rowan County’s former practice was unconstitutional.
“We believe those rulings should be the final word in this case, but no matter what, we will continue defending the rights of our clients and all Rowan County residents to be free from religious coercion by government officials.”

Somervell County Salon wrote about that last decision in July 2017 here. Note again that the 4th circuit said 

The 4th Circuit, located in Richmond, Virginia, stressed that lawmaker-led prayer isn't "inherently unconstitutional." But the judges said that the fact that the commissioners were the exclusive prayer givers combined with the fact that they consistently invoked one faith and invited the audience members to participate sent the message that they preferred one religion over all others. 

"The prayer practice served to identify the government with Christianity and risked conveying to citizens of minority faiths a message of exclusion," Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote in the majority opinion that was joined by nine other judges. 

Reminder that this is the same issue that Somervell County Commissioners Court, as led by Judge Danny Chambers, has.  You can see the complete record of what is currently unconstitutional govt sponsored sectarian prayer as led exclusively by commissioners here.


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