FFRF is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court ruling against prayer at meetings of a California school board.
A district court in February 2016 granted summary judgment in favor of FFRF and its 22 plaintiffs, declaring school board prayer in Chino Valley District, Calif., an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. The decision by U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal, Central District of California, also ruled the school board policy and custom of reciting prayers, bible readings and proselytizing violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
FFRF filed its lawsuit in November 2014. After FFRF won at the district court level, the school board voted to appeal the decision in a controversial 3-2 vote at a contentious meeting. On March 31, 2016, the court ordered the district to pay more than $200,000 in attorney's fees and costs.
FFRF notes the board's policies and practices have no secular purpose.
"We're confident that the 9th Circuit will firmly agree with us," says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "Public school boards exist to oversee secular education, and must protect rights of students and their parents by keeping religious devotions and divisiveness out of official school board functions."