Judge in school board meeting prayer suit asks for motions based - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Judge in school board meeting prayer suit asks for motions based on Supreme Court ruling

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Attorneys representing both sides of a lawsuit involving prayer at school board meetings have filed motions arguing how a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects their case.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a prayer said before council meetings in the Town of Greece, New York, is allowable under the United States Constitution. The court ruled by a 5-4 decision that prayers are in line with long national traditions. The decision said as long as the prayers do not attempt to convert people, their content is not significant.

A student in Lexington-Richland School District 5 and the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the district over prayers said at school board meetings.

U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie, who has the local case, gave attorneys in the suit a deadline last week to file new briefs in the case to argue their side based on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Town of Greece case and its impact on the local case. Currie asked both sides to withdraw their previous arguments, and update them based on the most recent ruling established by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Both sides have until the end of August to respond to the opposing brief. Then, if she determines it's necessary, Curry could schedule oral arguments.

Aaron Kozloski, who represents the student, Matthew Alexander Nielson, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says the Town of Greece case does not set a precedent in this local case, "Because our case is very, very different."

Kozloski says the presence of children at school board meetings is the determining factor. He argues a school board is not a legislative body, but rather a group that makes policies that run a school district.

"The child is the polar star of the existence of that district and that school board," Kozloski said.
"Because of the attendance and  participation at those meetings, a school board meeting is more like a school function."

"We believe legislative prayer applies to school boards," said attorney Andrea White, who represents the school district.

"We believe that the Town of Greece decision supports the District's position in our case-- that a deliberative public body (including a local governmental body) may open its meetings with a prayer without violating the Establishment Clause of the Constitution," said White back in May after the Town of Greece ruling.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

 

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