Federal court: sectarian prayers at city council meetings are constitutional
March 29, 2013
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sometimes described as one of the nation’s most politically liberal appellate courts, has upheld the constitutionality of sectarian prayers at city council meetings as long as one religion is not favored.
The city council of Lancaster, which is located near Los Angeles, invites clergy from different religious communities, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Wiccans, to offer invocations prior to meetings.
The majority of clergy have been Christian. A citizen challenged the constitutionality of the city’s policy after a Baptist minister prayed “in the precious, holy and righteous and matchless name of Jesus.”
“Jesus is not a dirty word,” said the city’s mayor. “Really what this lawsuit was about was making it one.”
- Full text of ruling (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- Lancaster City Council prayers again ruled constitutional (Los Angeles Times)
- 9th Circuit: City's Invocation Policy Upheld Despite Christian References In Many Prayers (Religion Clause)