Couple Alleges Law Allowing Moment of Silence is Unconstitutional Establishment of Religion

In 2006, a North Texas couple claimed that the Texas law allowing students to observe a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day was unconstitutional. The couple sued Texas Governor Rick Perry on behalf of their three children who attended school in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District. The couple argued that the law, which took effect in 2003, was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The law specified that the moment of silence was a time for students to “reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student.” 

Legal Action

First Liberty Institute filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and presented oral argument alongside the Solicitor General of Texas, who represented Governor Perry. In March 2009, the Fifth Circuit upheld the moment of silence law, rejecting the couple’s claim that the moment of silence was unconstitutional.

When asked about the ruling, Governor Perry said justice was served. “Whether schoolchildren use their morning moment of silence to pray or to prepare for a pop quiz, tolerance and personal freedom are lessons that should be taught and exercised regardless of our environment,” the governor said.

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