Community prayer challenge survives legislative immunity defense

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Doe v. Franklin County, Missouri, (ED MO, June 7, 2013), plaintiff, who attended County Commission meetings, sued the county and Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer who often opened Commission meetings with a Christian prayer, instead of with the scheduled moment of silence. The court fund that plaintiff has standing.  It then refused to dismiss the suit against Griesheimer on the basis of legislative immunity, finding that the content of the prayers involved did not relate to deliberating or passing any law– a prerequisite for legislative immunity. The court held in abeyance defendants’ motion to dismiss the suit as a political question until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a legislative prayer case on its docket for next term. (See prior posting.)