About this Case

The U.S. District Court enjoined the school district from conducting, permitting, or otherwise endorsing school-sponsored prayer in school board meetings.  The school board appealed this judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Summary of NLF's Brief

In our brief, we argue that prayers at school board meetings are constitutional, because they are prayers of “deliberative bodies” as that term is used in the U.S. Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers. This is so even if putatively coercive elements, which would be problematic under other Establishment Clause tests, are present, as has been held in prior cases. The applicability of Marsh is supported by the historical pedigree of school board prayers. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that prayer is permissible at the meetings of deliberative bodies, such as state legislatures and town councils, a federal district court has refused to allow prayers at school board meetings.  Our brief explained why this district court is wrong and why school boards should be treated no differently than other deliberative bodies.