Wednesday, May 07, 2014

District Court Vacates Preliminary Injunction Against Maryland County After Town of Greece Decision; Plaintiffs Will Go On

Within hours after Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece permitting sectarian invocations at city council meetings, a Maryland federal district court vacated a preliminary injunction it had issued (see prior posting) barring a Maryland county from opening its Commission meetings with sectarian prayers.  The Order (full text) in Hake v. Carroll County, Maryland, (D MD, May 5, 2014), merely recites that its action is "consistent with" the Supreme Court's decision.  In Carroll County, invocations were delivered by members of the County Commission, on a rotating basis, rather than by invited clergy or a chaplain.  The Commission had guidelines urging non-sectarian language, but they were often ignored. The Baltimore Sun reports that plaintiffs, pointing to these differences, say they will continue to pursue the Carroll County challenge. The American Humanist Association, one of the plaintiffs, says: "Unlike in the town of Greece, where even an atheist could give an invocation, in this case you have a very exclusive policy."