Friday, January 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: >> U.S. District Court Judge Rules Silence Unconstitutional <<

January 22, 2009

A U.S. District Court judge struck down an Illinois state "moment of silence" law, ruling that it was too coercive and crossed the First Amendment line barring government from establishing a religion.
Judge Robert W. Gettleman entered a permanent injunction, ruling that its requirement that students must use the time for prayer or silent reflection amounted to a tacit endorsement of prayer.

"The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion," wrote Gettleman.
David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said: “This law did not force anyone into prayer whatsoever. It was a moment of silence or prayer, whatever the student chose. The teacher was not to lead it, but just to recognize that we’re taking a moment of silence for prayer or silent reflection.
Adam Schwartz, the ACLU’s senior staff counsel, said the organization was pleased with the decision “to strike down a statewide law that coerced children to pray as part of an organized activity in our public schools.”
Last year, a federal court threw out a challenge to a 2003 Texas law that allows children to "reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities" for one minute at the beginning of each school day.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of that law, concluding that "the primary effect of the statute is to institute a moment of silence, not to advance or inhibit religion."

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