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By Joshua Gill
A federal court ruled Friday that praying at the opening of North Carolina county commission meetings is unconstitutional.
The full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the initial ruling of the circuit’s 3 judge panel, which said that the prayers were constitutional so long as Rowan County commissioners did not pressure anyone to join. According to the full circuit’s 10-5 ruling, the prayers constitute a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the initial lawsuit over the prayers, and alleged the religious practice was discriminatory, according to NBC Charlotte.
The court’s ruling conflicts with the Supreme Court’s ruling three years ago that religious leaders may open legislative meetings with prayer, regardless of whether everyone in attendance adheres to the same faith, according to a press release sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation from First Liberty Institute.
“While we are disappointed in the Fourth Circuit’s decision to ban invocations before legislative meetings contrary to Supreme Court precedent, we are encouraged that the split in the vote on the Fourth Circuit demonstrates the need for Supreme Court review on this issue,” said Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute.