Supreme Court Declines Texas School Board Prayer Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to accept a case involving student-led prayers at public school board meet­ings in Texas.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) sued the Bird­ville Independent School District for opening its school board meetings with student prayer. Americans United was among the groups that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing that the school district was promoting school-sponsored prayers.

With the high court’s decision not to accept the case, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that allows the prayers will stay in place.

Isaiah Smith, a 2014 graduate of the school district, told the 5th Circuit in March 2017 that he felt “violated and uncomfortable” when exclusively Christian prayers were recited at the meetings, and argued that they violated the U.S. Constitution by pressuring students to pray.

AHA’s executive director Roy Speckhardt said the pray­ers are an “unfair and inappropriate practice.”

“The court’s decision disregards the serious coercion students face when a prayer is recited in a school-con­trol­led environment with teachers and administrators watch­ing and participating,” Speckhardt said.