Saturday, May 25, 2013
9th Circuit Bans Prayer at Public Libraries
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Written By A. Urti
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling which said that a Christian ministry has the right under the First Amendment to use a public library for “prayer, praise, and worship.” In a 2 to 1 decision, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit said that government libraries can prohibit religious groups from worshipping in its facilities.
The Ninth Circuit Court is the nation’s most frequently overturned court.
According to Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorney Gary McCaleb, the decision is “astounding.” ADF is a litigation organization, co-founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy, which is dedicated to protecting the fundamental liberty of religious expression in America.
“Religious people … whether they’re Jewish, Muslim, or Christian or any other faith under the sun, this is not what the First Amendment was intended to do, to authorize censorship of speech in public.”
Contra Costa County (Calif.) has a policy which allows the public to use meeting rooms at public libraries free of charge, though the invitation is not extended to religious groups. The county argued that allowing prayer services would mean taxpayer subsidized religious exercises.
“Religious worship services is a category of speech that we are allowed to exclude,” says county attorney Kelly Flanagan.
In the lone dissent, Judge Richard Tallman says that the prohibition of religious groups from county library facilities is too stringent.
“Rather than adopting a policy of neutrality and placing reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on every group that uses the library meeting rooms, the county has gone to great lengths to exclude a non-disruptive community group based on the views it wishes to express,” said Tallman.
“Appeals Court Overturns Ruling Allowing Prayer in Public Libraries,” FoxNews, September 21, 2006.