Texas official asks court to grant permanent approval for prayer ahead of hearings
A Texas justice of the peace is asking the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to permanently allow voluntary prayer sessions that begin his court’s proceedings, according to an appeal filed last week.
Judge Wayne Mack of Conroe, Texas, wants appellate judges to overturn a lower court ruling in May that banned voluntary prayer before sessions, saying the ruling “mocks both religion and the law”.
In a file filed on September 22 with the 5th Circuit, lawyers for Judge Mack argue that the lower court’s decision that voluntary prayer at the opening of legal proceedings “violates the establishment clause is contrary to the precedent of the Supreme Court and this Court “.
Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt ruled against prayer ahead of court proceedings.
Justice Mack’s record notes that the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway authorized volunteer chaplains to open city council meetings. He says the practice of Justice Mack must be viewed in light of the âhistorical practices and understandingsâ of the First Amendment clause.
“I am simply giving the opportunity to our volunteer chaplains from all religious traditions to make remarks and, if they wish, a brief invocation,” Justice Mack said in a statement issued by the First Liberty Institute, the group of conservative Christian law nonprofit that represents him. .
But Texas attorney “John Roe” and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for atheists and agnostics, say Judge Mack tried to “infuse religious practice” into the classroom. hearing.
The foundation’s associate attorney, Sam Grover, told The Times that Mr. Roe “had lost business” because he would not appear before Judge Mack and that if the attorney were to come out during prayer sessions, he would “be doing his customers a disservice.”
Mr Grover said he plans to file a response brief by Nov. 22 and that he “feels quite confident” that Justice Hoyt’s ruling will be upheld by the appeal committee.