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5th Circuit to Take Up Texas 'Moment of Silence' Law

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A federal appeals court is expected to hear arguments this fall in a challenge to a Texas law mandating a "moment of silence" to "reflect, pray, [or] meditate," the Houston Chroncle reports here. (Thanks to How Appealing for the tip.)

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief on Monday urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, to uphold the 2003 statute, which he says promotes patriotism and thoughtful contemplation, not religion. The brief is here, and a news release is here.

A federal district judge upheld the law against a facial challenge by a Texas couple that argued the inclusion of the word "pray" violated the First Amendment's prohibition against government establishment of religion.

"A reasonable observer would not find the addition of the word 'pray' to operate as an endorsement of religion or prayer in the classroom," U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn of Dallas said in her January ruling.

The family that challenged the law then appealed that ruling to the 5th Circuit.

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This is a fascinating matter, especially in such a heavily religious state as Texas. It will be interesting to see how the court rules and whether or not all the areas of Texas will even abide by the ruling, given their independent nature.

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