For immediate release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Aug. 14, 2014) – A federal court on Wednesday issued an order requiring the Carroll County (Maryland) Commissioners to produce documents requested by the Plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the commissioners’ public meeting prayer practices. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted the American Humanist Association’s Motion to Compel Discovery, which was made after the commissioners refused to produce any documents in response to routine discovery requests in the litigation.
In the opinion accompanying the order, the Court rejected Carroll County’s objections claiming that the documents were unduly burdensome to produce, irrelevant, and were protected by legislative immunity. The documents requested included emails to and from the commissioners regarding their legislative prayers, letters sent by community members regarding such prayers, and documents involving prayers by Commissioner Robin Frazier specifically.
“We are very pleased that the Court recognized the obstructive posture that the defendants had taken,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Even though we have always maintained that the facts on the record are sufficient to find Carroll County in violation of the Establishment Clause, we think it is important for the Court to have a complete record of all the relevant facts before issuing what may be the first ruling on legislative prayer since Town of Greece v. Galloway,” she added, referring to the recent Supreme Court case that upheld a town’s practice of allowing community members, including atheists, to deliver invocations at town meetings on an inclusive and non-discriminatory basis. Plaintiffs in the Carroll County case allege that Carroll County’s prayer practices are less inclusive and more invidious than the practice upheld in the Galloway case.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.