By Don Byrd
Written by Don Byrd
The church-state issues surrounding invocations that open official government meetings remain areas of significant dispute, as courts continue to wrestle with the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which the Court upheld a policy that allowed sectarian prayers to be delivered by area clergy. In Bormuth v. Jackson County, The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday added to the ongoing legislative prayer conversation, ruling unconstitutional the invocation practice of the Board of Commissioners in Jackson County, Michigan.
This case is an important reminder that in Town of Greece, the Supreme Court did *not* hold that all legislative prayer is lawful. Important constitutional limits remain to protect religious liberty. In its opinion, the 6th Circuit found that in this case those limits had been crossed. The Court emphasized a number of facts that distinguish the Jackson County case from the Town of Greece case, including the fact that the Jackson County Board opens each meeting with a prayer delivered by one of the nine commissioners. The Court found that be a significant difference. From the 2-1 opinion (citations removed):
When the Board of Commissioners opens its monthly meetings with prayers, there …read more