Sunday, June 03, 2012

Court Rules Town Meeting Prayer Violates Vermont Constitution

In Hackett v. Town of Franklin, (VT Super. Ct., May 29, 2012), a Vermont trial court held that a town's practice of including a prayer at its town meetings violates Art. 3 of the Vermont constitution that prohibits a person from being "compelled to attend any religious worship." The prayer was regularly led by a local Christian minister. The court enjoined the town from continuing such prayers in the future, and it also scheduled a further hearing on damages that should be awarded to plaintiff. However, the court held that town meeting prayer does not violate the "compelled support" clause of Vermont's constitution (Art. 3) nor its statutory prohibition on religious discrimination in public accommodations. A release from the Vermont ACLU reports on the decision, and links to all the pleadings in the case.