A federal appeals court has upheld a Texas law requiring students to observe one minute of silence following the Pledge of Allegiance.
Texas school boards are required by the state to set aside one minute per day at schools in order to allow students to "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that is not likely to interfere with or distract another student."
The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2006 by the parents of three students who claimed the "Moment of Silence" law "caused harm" to their children and violated their First Amendment rights.
The decision upholding the law was handed down Monday from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"A moment of silence is not a government endorsement of religion just because someone might use the time for prayer," said David Cortman, Senior Legal Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "No student is compelled to pray under the Texas law."
2008 - Lower District Court Finds Law Constitutional
In January 2008, a lower district Court ruled that the law was constitutional.
But in its unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit wrote, "the statute is facially neutral between religious and non-religious activities that students can choose to engage in during the moment of silence…." The judges ruled that the parents failed to prove that the law forced religion upon their children.
The judges cited precendence set by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, who wrote that it "is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren.'
Several courts have upheld similar moment-of-silence laws.
Sources: CBN News, Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Legal Institute