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Student's constitutional challenge to a state's Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act
Sherman v. Koch, 09-1455, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, in a student's suit against an Illinois school superintendent and the school district, claiming that Section 1 of the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, which makes it mandatory a period of silence in public schools, is unconstitutional.
In reversing the grant of summary judgment, the court held that plaintiff's First Amendment challenge fails as the Illinois legislature had a secular purpose in passing Section 1, there is no evidence that the secular purpose is a sham and that Illinois's true purpose was to promote prayer, and there is nothing impermissible about clarifying that students may pray during that time period. The court also held that Section 1 does not advance or inhibit religion, but rather mandates only a period of silence, and that there is no state entanglement with religion. Lastly, the court held that plaintiff's vagueness challenge also fails because Section 1 is not unconstitutionally vague in all of its operations.