The Board’s legislative prayer practice falls within our recognized tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents. It is therefore constitutional.The district court (see prior posting) had held that Town of Greece does not cover sectarian invocations delivered by the county commissioners themselves instead of invited clergy. The majority, however, said:
Nowhere did the [Supreme] Court say anything that could reasonably be construed as a requirement that outside or retained clergy are the only constitutionally permissible givers of legislative prayer.Judge Wilkinson, dissenting, said in part:
This combination of legislators as the sole prayer-givers, official invitation for audience participation, consistently sectarian prayers referencing but a single faith, and the intimacy of a local governmental setting exceeds even a broad reading of Town of Greece.Charlotte Observer reporting on the decision says that the ACLU, representing plaintiffs, will ask for en banc review.