Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Court Says Opening Council Meetings With Lord's Prayer Is Unconstitutional; Urges Compromise

In Mullin v. Sussex County, Delaware, (D DE, May 15, 2012), a Delaware federal district court granted a preliminary injunction barring Sussex County Council from opening its meetings with the recitation of the Lord's Prayer. The court found it likely that
Council's practice of opening each meeting with a recitation of this distinctly Christian Lord's Prayer violates the Establishment Clause because it constitutes government endorsement of the Christian faith. The fact that The Lord's Prayer has been the only prayer recited at the beginning of Council meetings for over six years is likely to be found to demonstrate that the Council gives Christianity an unconstitutionally preferred status, sending a message to meeting attendees that the Council is promoting the beliefs of Christianity.
However, on its own initiative, the court stayed the effectiveness of the preliminary injunction for one month, expressing the hope that " during this period the parties may confer- perhaps with the assistance of one of this Court's judicial officers as mediator- and attempt to agree upon how to preserve the Council's practice of opening its meetings with a prayer but to do so in a manner that is consistent with the United States and Delaware Constitutions." Americans United issued a press release announcing the decision. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]