ICC Note: An appeals court in California has upheld a ruling that a California school board violated the constitution by presenting prayers during its board meetings. The matter arose in 2014 when the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against the school board. Both the mayor and many local residents were disappointed with the ruling, leading them to encourage the board to appeal the initial ruling.
07/26/2018 United States (Christian News Network) – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling declaring that a California school board violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by presenting predominantly Christian prayers during public meetings.
“The policy and practice of prayer at Chino Valley Board meetings violates the Establishment Clause. The scope of injunctive relief is appropriate, because it merely prohibits governmental action that violates the Constitution and does not infringe upon constitutional rights,” wrote a unanimous three-judge panel, consisting of Judges M. Margaret McKeown, Kim McLane Wardlaw and Wiley Y. Daniel.
All three judges were appointed to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton.
The ruling leaves in place an injunction prohibiting the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education “from conducting, permitting or otherwise endorsing school sponsored prayer in board meetings.”
As previously reported, the matter began in November 2014 when the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a 49-page lawsuit against the Chino Valley board. Among other practices, the organization took issue with the board’s custom of opening meetings with invocations, which they argued is a violation of the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
“The Chino Valley School Board begins each meeting with a prayer,” FFRF wrote in its legal challenge. “Indeed the meetings resemble a church service more than a school board meeting, complete with Bible readings by the board members, Bible quotations by board members, and other statements by board members promoting the Christian religion.”
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