Attorney General Alan Wilson Urges Supreme Court to Protect Prayer at Public Meetings

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — November 15, 2017 South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and a coalition of 22 states are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the practice of lawmaker-led prayer at public meetings.

The coalition intends to file a brief Wednesday asking the Supreme Court to hear arguments and confirm the constitutionality of the practice. Such a decision would clear confusion among the lower courts and strike down a ruling that impacts South Carolina.

“Our Founding Fathers strongly supported legislative prayer by public bodies and deeply believed in Divine Guidance to support these bodies. Nothing in the Constitution prevents a respectful prayer led by a lawmaker for help in making the right decision,” Attorney General Wilson said. “The last place the right of free expression of our faith should be excluded is where the laws of a free people are made.”

The coalition argues lawmaker-led prayer is woven into the fabric of American society. The practice also is fully consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s long tradition of non-coercive expressions of faith in the public sector.

The brief further cites numerous examples nationwide of states, counties and municipalities that open meetings with a government official’s prayer. It argues many governing bodies cannot afford to hire a full-time chaplain or recruit volunteer clergy.

The case, Lund vs. Rowan County, focuses upon a North Carolina county’s practice of opening its meeting with prayer offered by its commissioners. The coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief is filed in support of the North Carolina county.

South Carolina filed its brief in support of free expression of faith along with West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, along with the Governor of Kentucky.

Read a copy of the brief here.

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