Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education, No. 16-55425 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Foundation filed suit challenging a religious exercise at a local school board's meetings, including a prayer in the portion of the meeting that was open to the public and that included student attendees and participants. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment and injunctive relief to the Foundation, holding that invocations to start the open portions of school board meetings were not within the legislative prayer tradition that allowed certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions, because these prayers typically take place before groups of schoolchildren whose attendance was not truly voluntary and whose relationship to school district officials, including the school board, was not one of full parity. Applying the test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 612–13 (1971), the panel held that the Board's prayer policy lacked a secular legislative purpose and thus violated the Establishment Clause. The panel also held that the district court's injunction was not overbroad because it was limited to restricting only speech that constituted a governmental establishment of religion.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on December 26, 2018.