Chicago, IL – The United States Supreme Court has denied review of a case decided by a federal appeals court in Chicago last year that ruled a daily moment of silence as constitutional in public schools. This denial at the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, which allows students and school personnel the opportunity to start the day at every public school in the state of Illinois with “silent prayer or silent reflection.”
State legislators originally voted with an overwhelming majority to pass this law in 2007, making the moment of silence mandatory. Shortly following the vote, Dawn Sherman, a Buffalo Grove High School student and daughter of atheist activist Rob Sherman, filed suit claiming the moment of silence wastes time and takes away from learning. In 2009, District Judge Robert Gettleman ruled the law unconstitutional, claiming the moment of silence was endorsing religion and sought to introduce prayer in school. An injunction was placed against the daily moment of silence, which put an end to the daily routine.
In October of 2010, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to overturn the lower court ruling, claiming the law is, in fact, constitutional and not an endorsement of religion. Judge Daniel Manion of the federal appeals court wrote, “Nothing in the text … limits students’ thoughts during the period of silence; the text mandates only one thing – silence.” Within three months the daily moment of silence was officially back in schools after a two-year hiatus.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented:
“Upholding the ‘moment of silence’ law is both constitutional and common
sense. A moment of silence respects the best traditions of America, by
accommodating those who wish to pray but not forcing those who do not.”