ACLU Backs Wiccan Priestess

August 10, 2005

Source: The Washington Times

Wire Service: AP

On August 10, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "Civil liberties lawyers have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Wiccan priestess to offer prayers before a public board's meetings. Cynthia Simpson was turned down in 2002 when she asked the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors to add her name to the list of people who customarily open the board's meetings with a religious invocation. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the suburban Richmond county. In their petition, received by the court yesterday, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers accuse the federal appeals court of trying to 'obscure with legal smoke and mirrors' Chesterfield's preference for mainline religions. 'Although Establishment Clause jurisprudence may be beset with conflicting tests, uncertain outcomes and ongoing debate, one principle has never been compromised ... that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another,' ACLU attorneys wrote in their 13-page filing. County officials said they had the right to limit the prayers to Judeo-Christian beliefs and religions based on a single god... In 2003, a federal judge ruled the Chesterfield restriction unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit in Richmond reversed that decision in April."