A federal court has upheld a moment-of-silence law in Texas against a First Amendment challenge.
In early January, U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn found the measure constitutional despite the action of state lawmakers who in 2003 amended the law to include the word “prayer.”
“Although it is a close question, the Court finds legitimate the secular purpose of allowing all types of thoughtful contemplation and concludes that this purpose is supported by the legislative history,” Lynn wrote in Croft v. Perry.
David and Shannon Croft had sued the state, arguing that the statute’s primary purpose is to advance religion in the public schools. Their attorney told The Dallas Morning News that a decision on whether to appeal the ruling has not been made.
Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, told the newspaper that the law was actually about promoting prayer in the public schools.
“Everyone knows what this is all about,” she said, “and we pretend that it’s not really what it is. It’s really about starting the school day off with prayer.”