About this Case
A parish resident and taxpayer sued the parish school board, its members, and its superintendent, challenging several prayer events permitted by the school system. All challenges except that to school board's practice of opening its meetings with prayer were resolved by consent judgment. The United States District Court held that the prayers to open meetings fell outside the legislative-prayer context and otherwise violated Establishment Clause and permanently enjoined the board from opening its meeting with any prayer. Defendants appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
Summary of NLF's Brief
Our brief argued that the case should be remanded with instructions to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, because Establishment Clause claims were not properly brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We urged the court to apply Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), because its establishment clause principles are applicable in a wide variety of situations, including the case of school board prayers, which are not an unconstitutional form of proselytizing (which would have been proscribed under the Lemon test).