In Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education, (9th Cir., July 25, 2018), the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that a California school board’s prayer policy at board meetings violates the Establishment Clause. The court said in part:The invocations to start the open portions of Board meetings are not within the legislative prayer tradition that allows certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions. This is not the sort of solemnizing and unifying prayer, directed at lawmakers themselves and conducted before an audience of mature adults free from coercive pressures to participate, that the legislative-prayer tradition contemplates…. Instead, these prayers typically take place before groups of schoolchildren whose attendance is not truly voluntary and whose relationship to school district officials, including the Board, is not one of full parity…..Instead of the legislative-prayer analysis, we apply the three-pronged Establishment Clause test articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman…. The Chino Valley Board’s prayer policy and practice fails the Lemon test and is therefore unconstitutional.Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.



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