The Illinois State Senate has overwhelmingly approved a measure mandating a daily moment of silence in public schools.
On March 21, senators approved SB 1463 on a 58-1 vote. The new law, which would take effect immediately if passed in the House and signed by the governor, requires teachers to instruct their students to observe a moment of silence every morning.
The Chicago Tribune saw the action as a chance for state lawmakers “to work around constitutional prohibitions against school prayer.” The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public school officials cannot organize prayer or other religious activities. Truly voluntary student prayer is permissible.
State Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) was the only lawmaker to vote against the measure. He said it is unnecessary because school officials already have the authority to impose a moment of silence when needed.
The Senate measure was pending in the House Rules Committee at the time Church & State went to press.