For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Richmond, VA, July 22, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed an appellate brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit regarding its lawsuit brought on behalf of a local family against the Greenville County School District in Taylors, South Carolina.
In May, the United States District Court for South Carolina partially ruled in favor of the American Humanist Association, holding that the school district’s prayer practice prior to 2013 was unconstitutional. However, the ruling upheld the district’s prayer practice as currently described by the district, and held that the local family lacked standing to challenge the district’s practice of holding graduations in a Christian venue. According to the brief, the graduation prayer practice remains unconstitutional because it continues to subject a captive audience to proselytizing Christian prayers at school-sponsored events. It also states that the family has taxpayer standing to challenge the district’s chapel practice.
“The Supreme Court and lower court cases make clear that graduation prayers violate the Establishment Clause, regardless of whether they are student-initiated, because they coerce students to participate in a religious exercise and are unavoidably stamped with the school’s seal of approval,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
The appeal asks the Fourth Circuit to reverse the district court’s decisions and remand with instructions to issue summary judgment in favor of the American Humanist Association and the local family.
The appellate brief can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic 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.