Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Cert. Denied In Michigan Legislative Prayer Case

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in Bormuth v. Jackson County, Michigan, (Docket No. 17-7220, cert. denied June 28, 2018). (Order List).  In the case, the 6th Circuit sitting en banc in a 9-6 decision upheld the invocation practices of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.  At issue was whether the Establishment Clause is violated when invocations-- virtually all of them Christian-- are offered by elected Commissioners themselves rather than by a chaplain or invited clergy. (See prior posting.)  The denial of review came on the same day that the Supreme Court (as previously reported) also denied certiorari in a 4th Circuit legislative prayer case-- Rowan County, North Carolina v. Lund which took a contrary view in a similar situation. In the Rowan County case, Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch, filed an opinion dissenting from the denial of certiorari, saying in part::
[T]he Sixth and Fourth Circuits are now split on the legality of legislator-led prayer. State and local lawmakers can lead prayers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, but not in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, or West Virginia. This Court should have stepped in to resolve this conflict.
[Thanks to Blog From the Capital for the lead on Bormuth.]