Thursday, April 06, 2006

8th Circuit Upholds Contempt Finding For Conducting Religious Baccalaureate Ceremony

This week, in Warnock v. Archer (8th Cir., April 4, 2006), the U.S. 8th Circuit court of Appeals upheld the trial court's civil contempt order against the DeValls Bluff Arkansas School District and its employees for violating an injunction that prohibited them from orchestrating or supervising prayers at school graduation or baccalaureate ceremonies. A 2004 baccalaureate ceremony included an invocation and benediction by local ministers. While school officials claimed that the baccalaureate service was a student-organized event, the court found that school employees were involved with almost every aspect of the service's preparation. The Associated Press reports that the successful plaintiff in this litigation, Paul Warnock, was eventually fired as a teacher, but lost his suit claiming that his dismissal was because of his complaints about religious discrimination and Christian prayer in the school.