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Supreme Court reverses ruling on Kansas woman who says police stopped her from praying

June 29, 2018

A Kansas woman who says her First Amendment rights were violated when police officers stopped her from praying in her home will get another chance in court, the Supreme Court said Thursday.

In an unsigned opinion, the court reversed a ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted qualified immunity to the officers involved in a 2013 incident involving Mary Anne Sause and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.

Sause’s case stems from an encounter she had with police who visited her apartment in response to a noise complaint. After Sause initially refused to open the door, the officers told her she would be going to jail and made comments mocking the Constitution, according to court documents.

After hearing the officers’ comments, Sause asked one if she could pray and received permission to do so, court filings say. She then knelt on a prayer rug and began to silently pray. But the second officer involved ordered her to stop. She was cited for disorderly conduct and interfering with law enforcement.

Sause then filed a lawsuit against the two officers, saying her First Amendment rights had been violated.

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