Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Attorney Has Standing To Challenge Judge's Prayer Practices

In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Mack, (SD TX, Jan. 13, 2010), a Texas federal district court held that an attorney has standing to challenge a Texas Justice of the Peace's practice of having his court sessions opened with a prayer. The attorney, who is non-religious, has declined clients in order to avoid the judge's courtroom. The court said in part:
Here, Attorney Roe has offered testimony that he practices law in Montgomery County, Texas, has appeared in Judge Mack’s courtroom on several occasions, and that he avoids the courtroom because of Judge Mack’s practice. The harm alleged does not occur only because he enters the courtroom, but also because he must avoid the courtroom since the practice continues. Therefore, there is a substantive risk that were he to accept a case in Judge Mack’s court, he will be exposed to the prayer practice. Hence, Attorney Roe has satisfied the standing requirements.
Judge Mack also challenges the FFRF’s standing. Because the Court has determined that Attorney Roe has standing, the FFRF has associational standing.