Supreme Court Rejects Church-State Appeal

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected an appeal of a lower court decision which upheld the policy of the Fredericksburg, Virginia, City Council requiring that the official prayers recited at the beginning of its meetings be non-sectarian.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed by a member of the City Council, Rev. Hashmel Turner, who claims that he has a constitutional right to offer a sectarian prayer as the Council's official opening prayer. The City Council and Mayor were represented in the case on a pro bono basis by Terence Rasmussen and Robert Rolfe of the law firm of Hunton & Williams and by attorneys with People For the American Way Foundation. Councilor Turner was represented by the Rutherford Institute.

People For the American Way Foundation President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement:

"The Supreme Court's decision reaffirms the notion that government must not take sides when it comes to religion. This case never had any reasonable chance of prevailing, and I hope that today’s decision will put it to rest permanently. This is a victory for the Constitution and for the separation between church and state that benefits us all."

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