County commissioners in a Texas jurisdiction now have the full
blessing of a federal judge to pray.
Wood County resident Charles Scott filed the lawsuit, claiming
that displaying the national motto, "In God We Trust," and offering
an invocation before meetings violates the First Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution. But Jeff Mateer of Liberty
Institute, who represented Wood County in federal court,
asserts that Scott's argument was flawed.
"The motivation behind this lawsuit was questionable
at best," he comments. "The Supreme Court has made clear on more
than one occasion that legislatures, counties, cities,
municipalities can open their meetings in prayer.
"Likewise, the Supreme Court has made clear, and other courts
have made clear, that there is nothing wrong with our national
motto, 'In God We Trust.'"
The plaintiff submitted extensive documentation, trying to
persuade the court that his constitutional rights had been violated
by the commissioner's alleged endorsement of religion.
"Fortunately the judge was not persuaded at all by his arguments
and position, and he was more persuaded, I think, by the Supreme
Court and the actual language of the First Amendment," Mateer
The judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling in favor of the