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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Slows Up State’s Mandatory Prayers

CHICAGO - A federal judge on Thursday enjoined one school district - but not the entire state - from enforcing a new law that requires student to observe a moment of silence at the start of each school day. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman, however, ordered the superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education to not enforce the law. Gettlemen said his ruling is meant to maintain the status quo as the constitutional test of the law proceeds.

Gettleman did grant a preliminary injunction preventing Township High School District 214 from enforcing the law, saying it is vague and may violate the First Amendment.

Rob Sherman, an atheist radio host, sued the state, claiming the law violates the First Amendment in forcing religion into public schools. Sherman's daughter is a freshman in the Township High School District.

Sherman's attorney, Gregory Kulis, said he expects to join all Illinois school districts into a class within a week. Such a move could expand the preliminary injunction against Township HSD 214 throughout the entire state. State lawmakers overrode Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto and passed the moment of silence into law in October.

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