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High court turns away Va. council-prayer case

By The Associated Press
01.13.09

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by a Fredericksburg City Council member who was barred from invoking Jesus at council meetings.

The high court yesterday declined to hear the case of the Rev. Hashmel Turner, who claimed that the city was violating his First Amendment rights. The case is Turner v. Fredericksburg, Va., City Council.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Turner last July, saying that his use of "in Jesus' name" when ending opening prayers wasn't protected because it was government speech, not individual expression.

The council implemented a policy permitting only nondenominational prayers after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to file a lawsuit over Turner's sectarian prayers.


Previous
Va. city council's prayer policy gets backing of 4th Circuit
Court finds rule barring sectarian blessing doesn't violate councilman's rights because opening prayer is government, not individual, speech. 07.25.08

Related

Government-speech doctrine can make restrictions too easy

By Douglas Lee Two recent cases show how a usually harmless principle may be applied in ways that put free speech at risk. 07.30.08

When government prays, religion loses
By Charles C. Haynes Why anyone of faith would support ceremonial public prayers stripped of religious meaning is hard to fathom. 08.03.08

Legislative prayer

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