Court to Reconsider Student-Led Prayer

March 20, 1999 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

ACLU News Wire: March 20, 1999 — Court to Reconsider Student-Led Prayer


SAN FRANCISCO, CA — After voting to allow students to lead prayer at high school graduations, a federal appeals court has withdrawn its decision and passed the issue on to a larger panel of judges, the Associated Press reported today.

Last May, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the policy of heavily Mormon school district in Idaho that allows the top students in each senior class to decide whether to include a prayer in their graduation speeches, said the newswire.

According to the AP, the judges said no one’s rights were violated as long as the students were free to decide on the prayer without interference from the district.

However, the appeals court said that a majority of its active judges had voted to refer the case to an 11-judge panel for a new hearing. According to the AP, the court apparently took the vote at the request of one of its judges.

Stephen Pevar, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer whose clients challenged the policy, told the AP that he was surprised and cautiously hopeful. Pevar said that his clients were two non-Mormon students who felt “like outcasts” at graduation ceremonies.

The appeals court covers nine Western states.

Source: The Associated Press, March 20, 1999

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.