An Appeals Court ruled last week that the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in Michigan was wrong to promote Christianity at government meetings.
They used to deliver the Christian invocation prayers themselves, which they can’t do. And when a Pagan man, Peter Bormuth, pointed out the problem with what they were doing, the commissioners flipped out.
… one of the Commissioners publicly referred to him as a “nitwit.” Another warned against allowing invited guests to give invocations for fear that they would express non-Christian religious beliefs. Still another described the lawsuit as “an attack on Christianity, and… an attack on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Bormuth eventually filed a lawsuit. When a District Judge ruled in favor of the County, the case was kicked up to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And those judges ruled 2-1 last week that the County was in the wrong.
Not yet. On Friday, the Commissioners voted unanimously to ask the entire Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on the matter.
That’s not unusual. When you lose at the Appeals level, your options are to ask the entire Court to reconsider the case and/or ask the Supreme Court to rule on the matter. (It’s more likely than not that both options will be rejected by the justices themselves because they can’t get to everything.)
What’s sad, though, is that the Commissioners feel like this is a viable option for them because a conservative legal group has offered to represent them for free.
The decision to appeal came after the board and its attorneys found a way to cut 90 percent of the cost of the appeal to county citizens.
The law firm representing the board is called First Liberty, a nonprofit group specializing in religious liberty cases.
The firm is representing the board pro bono, meaning voluntarily without cost, [Board Chairman James “Steve”] Shotwell Jr. said.
First Liberty may indeed represent the county for free — that’s what the ACLU and FFRF do, too — but the article doesn’t mention that if the County loses the case, it’s the local taxpayers who will be on the hook for the other side’s legal fees. First Liberty isn’t going to pay that.
You would think the taxpayers have a right to know what their elected officials are wasting money on, but the topic didn’t come up at a special meeting on Friday to discuss this case. Either they think they’re going to win this case, which is unlikely, or they’re blissfully unaware of how the law works.
(Thanks to David for the link)