Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sheriff Violates Establishment Clause By Inviting Christian Speakers

Yesterday in Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Association v. Clarke, (ED WI, Sept. 25, 2007), a Wisconsin federal district court held that Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. violated the Establishment Clause when he invited the Fellowship of Christian Centurions to make presentations at the Department's leadership conference and at Department "roll calls" at the beginning of each work shift. Two deputies, a Catholic and a Muslim, who were made uncomfortable by the presentations objected and eventually filed suit seeking damages and an injunction. Federal judge Lynn Adelman wrote:
defendants invited representatives of a Christian organization to present a proselytizing Christian message to deputies at meetings held at the workplace during working hours, which deputies were required to attend, and conveyed a message of endorsement of the presentations. The effect of defendants’ actions was to promote religion and to do so coercively.
A hearing has been set for November to discuss remedies. Yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the case.