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First Liberty Urges Court to Reject Attack on Invocations

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March 27, 2018

Montgomery County, TX—Today, First Liberty Institute and attorneys with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in defense of opening justice court with an invocation. The case stems from a lawsuit against Montgomery County, Texas in which an atheist group filed a complaint against Wayne Mack, a Justice of the Peace for the county, for allowing invocations at the start of court sessions.

“An atheist group previously lost its fight to silence the prayers in Judge Mack’s courtroom. Now they are trying to use the Federal court system to force the county to censor these invocations,” said Chelsey Youman, Counsel. “It’s a shame that a group from Wisconsin is wasting taxpayer dollars, forcing Montgomery County to defend something the Supreme Court of the United States has twice said is legal.”

Mack, who also serves as the County Coroner for Montgomery County, created a volunteer chaplaincy program to aid members of the community while he conducts independent death investigations. In his role as Justice of the Peace, Judge Mack allows the volunteer chaplains to open his courtroom ceremonies with a brief invocation and the pledge of allegiance in order to honor their service. The chaplaincy program includes leaders from multiple faiths, including Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Mormon religious leaders. In January, a federal district court judge allowed the suit against Montogmery County to continue even after plantiffs dropped Judge Mack from the lawsuit.

“The U.S. Supreme Court recently approved of invocations like those led by Judge Mack’s multi-faith chaplains,” added Ashley Johnson, Of Counsel for Gibson Dunn. “To preserve judicial autonomy, the court should reject this challenge to these ceremonial invocations in Judge Mack’s courtroom.”

To read the brief, click here.

To download a copy of this press release, click here.

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First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

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