Rowan County Must Pay ACLU Legal Fees In Prayer Lawsuit

Rowan County Must Pay ACLU Legal Fees In Prayer Lawsuit

12:06pm Jan 10, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case about public prayer at Rowan County commission meetings. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rowan County has been ordered to pay almost $300,000 in legal fees in a lawsuit surrounding prayer at the start of public meetings. 

The lawsuit dates back to 2013 when three residents sued the county commission over the public prayer that opened meetings. The plaintiffs were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The suit wound its way through federal courts until an appeals court ruled in 2017 that the manner in which prayers were delivered was unconstitutional. A judge with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that because the Board of Commissioners rotated sectarian prayers amongst themselves, no one else was permitted to offer an invocation.

The Salisbury Post reports that the court ordered the county to pay the ACLU’s legal fees, amounting to $285,000.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take on the case, allowing the lower court ruling to stand. 

County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved the payment, effectively ending the lawsuit.

Support your
public radio station