Virginia AG Laments Supreme Court Decision in VMI Prayer Case

The attorney general of Virginia is disappointed over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week not to consider reinstating mealtime prayers at state-funded Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

The high court last Monday turned aside an appeal from the State of Virginia, which wanted to preserve traditional mealtime prayers at VMI. A lower court had earlier ruled that group prayers before evening meals at the school violate separation of church and state. The Supreme Court's action means that ruling will stand. The case arose when two cadets asked the school to change the prayer ceremony, and sued when VMI refused.

Carrie Cantrell is a spokeswoman for Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, who had hoped the high court would consider his appeal of the lower-court ruling. That decision banned the recitation of grace by VMI cadets on the ground that the prayers violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Cantrell maintains that simply was not the case.

“It's a non-denominational grace [spoken] before supper that didn't require any individual to recite the prayer, bow his or her head, or even participate in the recitation,” she explains. “We were just disappointed [in the Supreme Court ruling].”

According to Cantrell, the attorney general will now look for other avenues. “We will look at other cases [from across the United States] that may be similar to this issue and see if we might be able to join in any other efforts,” she says. “We believe that this is an important issue that ought to have been heard.”

Cantrell points out what some consider a double standard regarding this ruling, noting that the Virginia General Assembly, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives incorporate voluntary prayer when opening their sessions.

“We don't think this [mealtime prayer at VMI] is very much different — and it's really part of the fabric of our country to have these types of ceremonies,” she says.

The Supreme Court's decision to refuse the case was not unanimous. In a dissent joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that refusing to hear the case leaves important issues unresolved.

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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