CHICAGO (CN) – A federal judge has lifted a ban on a controversial state law mandating a moment of silence in Illinois public schools, prompting a vow from the atheist challenging the law to take the case to the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman lifted the injunction on Jan. 13 after the 7th Circuit ruled in October that the law was constitutional because it did not specify prayer. The appeals court found that lawmakers had a secular and practical purpose for settling students down at the start of each school day.
The October 2007 law, called the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, requires schools to provide a moment of silence for students at the start of each school day, but it also offers schools flexibility in how to implement that time. The law was controversial when passed, as the state Senate overrode then Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto.
Outspoken atheist Robert Sherman, a radio talk show host, immediately challenged the law, claiming the law is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of church and state. Gettleman granted Sherman’s request for an injunction on the moment of silence, but the appeals court reversed that decision with its October ruling.
Despite the setback, Sherman, who calls himself one of the nation’s top two atheists, vowed on his blog RobSherman.com to take the fight to the Supreme Court with the help of fellow atheist and lawyer Mike Newdow.