Humanist group asks judge to order 'permanent injunction' against Carroll prayer

Both commissioners and plaintiffs now seeking summary judgment in dispute

June 10, 2014|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

The group battling with Carroll County commissioners over Christian prayers at their meetings asked a judge Tuesday to order a "permanent injunction" on the practice, which they say alienates some community members.

"Public officials are not in the business of offering Christian prayers," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, a plaintiff in the case. He called the invocations "unconstitutional."

With the latest filing by the plaintiffs for a summary judgment, both sides are now asking the judge to make a final ruling on the case rather than holding a trial.

The commissioners have argued in court papers that they are either immune to being sued over the prayers or that they're not in violation of the First Amendment's separation of church and state.

U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles originally issued a temporary ban on the contested sectarian prayers, only to lift it after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of prayers in a similar New York case.

The commissioners argue that the judge should apply that ruling to their case as well. But the humanist group says the facts differ because the New York town invited clergy to offer the prayers, whereas in Carroll County the commissioners pray themselves.

The judge has not indicated when he will rule.

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