Prayer Decision Will Be Appealed
Special Report - August 10, 2011
Forsyth County will ask the United States Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court ruling that prohibits the county from allowing local clergy to open its public meetings with prayers that mention a specific deity. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted 6 to 1 on Monday night in favor of appealing the July 29 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to the nation’s highest court. According a report in the Winston-Salem Journal, Forsyth County Commissioners Everette Witherspoon, Richard Linville, Dave Plyler, Debra Conrad, Gloria Whisenhunt, and Bill Whiteheart voted in support of the appeal, while Commissioner Walter Marshall voted against it.
The county is represented at no cost by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in the lawsuit, Joyner v. Forsyth County, which was brought in 2007 by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State on behalf of three Winston-Salem residents, who claim that the county’s prayer policy violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In January 2010, U.S. District Judge James A. Beaty, Jr., agreed with the plaintiff’s claims and enjoined the county from “continuing the policy as it is now implemented.” That decision was appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld the district court’s ruling in a 2 to 1 decision issued last month.
“There’s no reason that today’s public officials should be forced to censor the prayers of people invited to offer them simply because secularist groups don’t like people praying according to their own conscience,” said Mike Johnson, an ADF-allied attorney who argued the case before the 4th Circuit, in a statement. “Other federal courts around the country have ruled differently than the 4th Circuit, and America has a vast history of offering prayers before public meetings. We trust the U.S. Supreme Court will want to review this case.”
Court Says No Prayer in Jesus' Name - August 2, 2011
Forsyth Prayer Policy Gets Hearing - May 11, 2011
NCFPC Supports Prayer Policy - June 14, 2010
Forsyth Commissioners Vote to Appeal - February 23, 2010
Jesus' Name Takes Hit In Ruling - February 1, 2010
Appeals Court Upholds Sectarian Prayers at Public Meetings - October 31, 2008
Prayer Lawsuit Filed Against Forsyth County - April 4, 2007
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