Utah and four other states, along with a national education group, have filed "friend of the court" briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that broad issues of school graduation prayers be resolved.
The briefs are related to a Rhode Island case that was filed with the high court in December. Rhode Island is appealing a 1st District Federal Court decision that a graduation prayer offered by a clergyman at a middle school commencement was unconstitutional.The friends of the court briefs ask the Supreme Court to look beyond that case and determine whether any graduation prayers in public, tax-supported schools are constitutional.
Joining Utah in its brief were Idaho, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and North Dakota. The Counsel for the National Association of State Board of Education also has filed a brief. Douglas Bates, legal counsel for the Utah Office of Education, is the counsel of record for the organization. He is an association officer.
John McAllister of the Utah Attorney General's office, said he had been told the Supreme Court may expedite the case because of the interest, possibly making a determination soon whether it will hear the matter. If the court decides to deliberate on school prayer, it is possible it could do so in the current term, he said.
Utah is not expected to file further arguments, he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union said earlier it would proceed with suits against Alpine and Granite districts in U.S. District Court for Utah for allowing graduation prayers, regardless of action in higher courts.