Court: California school board’s prayers unconstitutional

Jul 31, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Southern California school board’s policy of opening meetings with a prayer is unconstitutional because the prayers often invoke Christianity, and there are secular ways of accomplishing the board’s goals of solemnizing meetings and showing respect for religious diversity, a U.S. appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that banned the prayers by the Chino Valley Unified School District board of education as a violation of the constitutional requirement that government not establish religion. The district is based in Chino, a city 35 miles east of Los Angeles.

Robert Tyler, an attorney for the school board, said the board was evaluating its next step, but had previously expressed a desire to “take this case as far as they can take it.” He said the 9th Circuit ruling conflicted with a decision last year by another U.S. appeals court and conflated comments made by individual board members during meetings with the prayer policy.

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One comment on “Court: California school board’s prayers unconstitutional”

  • 1
    Garrick says:

    Tampa Bay Times article:
    … The court said the board’s practice was different from the tradition of holding a prayer to open legislative sessions because many members of the audience at board meetings were children who had little choice but to attend and were in an “unequal” relationship with the board.

    Not sure why the reporter put only the word ‘unequal’ in inverted commas there, when (one hopes) he, she or it meant to quote the judges’ phrase “in an unequal relationship with the board” and thereby convey the board’s meaning clearly ( — putting only ‘unequal’ in inverted commas does suggest that the reporter itself doubted, or wished to insinuate the doubt, that the children had an unequal relationship with the board, thereby seeming to infer that the judges’ ruling was based on a false premise). Despite such slimy reporting, it is good to know that some judges in the USA take seriously the State’s constitutional commitment to eschewing all religious indoctrination of children in its provisions for their education.

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