Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Texas AG Opinion OK's Courtroom Chaplains

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton yesterday issued Attorney General Opinion No. KP-0109 (Aug. 15, 2016), responding to three Establishment Clause concerns.  The Opinion first concludes:
Courts do not violate the Establishment Clause by opening court proceedings with a statement such as, "God save the State of Texas and this Honorable Court."
It then moves to questions about the more controversial practice of a Texas justice of the peace who is also the county coroner.  As previously reported the judge created a volunteer chaplaincy program to help grieving family, friends and witnesses at death scenes to which the coroner is called.  To recognize these volunteer chaplains, they are also invited to give a brief prayer to open justice of the peace court proceedings. The state's Commission on Judicial Conduct had urged an end to these practices.  However, yesterday's AG opinion concluded that each of these practices is constitutional. A press release from First Liberty Institute discusses the AG opinion.