'Moment Of Silence' Law Survives Initial Court Skirmish

Monday, October 29th 2007, 3:14 pm
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal judge refused Monday to temporarily bar schools from observing a brief period of prayer or reflective silence for students, but he allowed a lawsuit contesting the practice to move forward.

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman told talk-radio host Rob Sherman, who filed the suit, and attorneys for school District 214 and the state to come back to court on Nov. 14 to explore the issue further.

Sherman's 14-year-old daughter, Dawn, is a student in the district at Buffalo Grove High School. She and her father maintain that the new law is just another round in the long-running battle over prayer in school and as such violates the U.S. Constitution.

``The whole purpose of this law is to get religion into the public schools,'' Rob Sherman told reporters as he left the courthouse.

The Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act already had allowed Illinois schools to have a moment of silence at the start of every school day if they wished to do so. Legislators, overriding a veto by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's veto this month, voted to make the observances mandatory.

School district representatives told the judge that they would enforce the law in neutral fashion with a 15-second moment of silence that made no reference to religion.

Sherman is an outspoken atheist who has gone to court before in an effort to get religious symbols out of the public sphere.