State Sen. Mike Shirkey and state Rep. Julie Alexander both applauded the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision Wednesday affirming the Jackson County Board of Commissioners’ right to begin meetings with a Christian prayer.
A Jackson County resident had filed a lawsuit, claiming the prayer violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“A brief prayer is an example of free speech, not a violation of it,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “We have an extensive history in Jackson County of opening our local and county meetings with a prayer, while inviting everyone in attendance to participate. It aligns perfectly with our shared rights recognized by the first amendment. We’re pleased our Court of Appeals agreed that we can continue this tradition.”
Alexander, who served three terms on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners prior to her election as a state representative in November 2016, was also supportive of the legal decision involving her home county.
“This decision continues our traditions in Jackson County, Lansing and across Michigan,” said Alexander, R-Hanover. “That was proven by having over 40 fellow state representatives – Democratic and Republican – join me in signing an amicus brief in support of Jackson County in March when this case was assigned to the Court of Appeals.”
Alexander emphasized participating in the prayer was voluntary.
“While serving as a county commissioner, we had a different student come in to lead the Pledge of Allegiance to begin every Board of Commissioners’ meeting,” said Alexander. “Participating in the Pledge and the prayer was never mandatory, whether it was a commissioner or anyone in the audience. I am pleased those traditions, as part of our country’s free speech, has been upheld.”