Government-Led Prayer Gets En Banc Hearing

CINCINNATI (CN) – The constitutionality of government-led prayer will be determined by the entire Sixth Circuit in an en banc hearing, following a poll of its judges without a request from the parties involved.

A divided panel ruled against a Michigan county’s practice of commissioner-led prayer less than two weeks ago, but the issue will now be heard by the entire court.

Peter Bormuth, who argued the case pro se, convinced the panel that Jackson County’s practice of opening board meetings with a commissioner-led prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Sixth Circuit Judge Richard Griffin sided with a federal judge, who called Bormuth’s reaction to the Christian prayers “hypersensitive,” and voiced his opposition to the majority in a 31-page dissent.

No date has been set for the hearing. The decision to hear the case en banc was made in a sua sponte poll of Sixth Circuit judges, meaning it was done on their own accord without a motion from either party.