Ninth Circuit Helps ACLU ‘Cleanse’ Library of Worship
The facts, but not the legal conclusions, for this post come from an article on 23 March in the Washington Examiner by Quin Hilyer. It recited that the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had just reversed a federal trial court in Contra Costa County in favor of a religious group that wanted to meet on occasion in a public library. (Keeping religion out of public libraries, and pornography in them have long been ACLU goals.)
The Faith Center had asked for the use of the meeting room in the library, on the same basis as the Democratic Party and various other community organizations, with varying opinions on religious matters. The library refused. Faith Center went to court, and based on numerous Supreme Court decisions, the trial court granted the injunction.
In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit partially reversed the trial court. It held that the morning session that Faith Center wanted to hold, “an End-Time call to Prayer for every Believer, and how to pray fervent, effectual Prayers…” was free speech, and could be held. However, the afternoon session, “Praise and Worship, including a sermon,” could not be held. In short, the Ninth Circuit drew a previously unknown distinction between worship and prayer. The Circuit did not suggest where the prayer police to enforce this distinction would come from, or what their theological training they would receive.
The Ninth Circuit is reversed more often than all the other eleven federal circuits put together. This case, whose result is no doubt favored by the ACLU, is another example of why those reversals are so common.