No contempt findings in Carroll County prayer case

Judge says he has no power to hold commissioner in contempt

May 15, 2014|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Carroll County Commissioner Robin B. Frazier will not face punishment for contempt of court after she uttered a prayer to Jesus at a recent meeting, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

In March, U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. issued a temporary ban on any prayers that mentioned Jesus or any other specifically Christian figures. After Frazier's prayer and another offered by a resident during a public comment period, the plaintiffs in the case — people who say the invocations alienate them — filed contempt charges.

But last week Quarles lifted his own ban after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of prayers aligned with a particular religion, ruling on a similar case arising from New York. The judge wrote that because his ban was no longer in effect, he could not hold the commissioner and the resident in contempt.

On Tuesday, Frazier delivered her first prayer since the ban was lifted, mentioning Jesus a single time.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked the judge to reinstate the ban. They argued in court filings that the situation in Carroll County, where the commissioners themselves deliver the prayers, is different to that in the New York town, where religious leaders were invited in.

The judge has yet to rule on that issue.

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