A federal judge has halted enforcement of an Illinois law that requires public schools to hold a moment of silence every morning.
In mid-November, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman said the law, called the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, is vague and raises serious First Amendment issues.
"[T]he statute is vague as to what activities are permitted during the period of silence," wrote Gettleman in a preliminary injunction. "It seems to the court, from the representations made by counsel,... that pupils would be permitted to pray silently at their desks. But would a Muslim pupil be permitted to kneel on a prayer rug on the floor? Would a pupil be permitted to look at a Bible? Would a pupil whose religion requires chanting be permitted to pray, even though doing so would not be 'silent'? Because of the statute's vagueness, the court is also concerned about possible violations of pupils' rights under the Free Exercise Clause."
The law was enacted in October,...