County Commission Opening Prayers To Continue - For Now - Under Judge Mattice Order Denying Preliminary Injunction

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Federal Judge Sandy Mattice, in a 37-page ruling released Wednesday morning, denied a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking opening prayers at the Hamilton County Commission meetings.

Judge Mattice set an Oct. 2 hearing in which to schedule trial of the case on its merits.

He said in the ruling the County Commission had several options on the prayer issue and "The Commission has chosen the fourth of these four options, and it is entirely within its rights to do so. However, in so choosing, it has assumed – on its own behalf and on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Hamilton County – the responsibility of ensuring that its policy is implemented in a manner that respects both the rights of its citizens and the commands of the First Amendment. Whether it will actually effect its policy in such a fashion has yet to be seen."

Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones had sued the county to try to stop the prayers, saying they promoted the Christian religion.

The commission afterward adopted a policy of rotating area ministers on a first come-first serve basis for the prayers.

Judge Mattice said, "This case presents a unique question, the legal underpinnings of which the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has yet to address."

He said, "The Court cannot say that Hamilton County’s prayer policy, on its face, violates the Establishment Clause. It appears to the Court that, at least as written, the policy strives for neutrality. The policy specifically states it is not intended to “proselytize or advance any particular faith, or show any purposeful preference of one religious view to the exclusion of others."

Here is the full opinion

http://www.tned.uscourts.gov/docs/112cv190.pdf


Chattanooga Police Seek 2 Theft And Fraud Suspects

The Chattanooga Police Department is asking for assistance in identifying two theft/fraud suspects who were captured on camera walking into businesses in the downtown area, stealing purses and other personal items.  The suspects then used the cash and credit cards they stole to purchase over $10,000 in Walmart gift cards. Investigators with the Fraud Unit need assistance ... (click for more)

Bessie Smith Cultural Center Selects Auditing Firm

The board of directors of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center has contracted with an independent auditing firm to review the financial records of the organization and make recommendations on improved financial controls. The firm of Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, PLLC has been selected. In addition, the board established a community panel to review the current policies and ... (click for more)

Cell Phones And Roundabouts

I read the article written by Chris Morgan about the use of cell phones in vehicles and the Chattanooga Roundabouts. Cell phone use in vehicles especially in crisis intersection situations is extremely dangerous. I also agree with his assessment about the roundabouts. One problem I see with roundabouts is that on the two-lane roundabouts where they are coming in from ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two Wrongs Not Right

Scottie Mayfield is a delightful friend of mine but he’s the last guy in the world who should be aiming at anybody’s character. He’s always had class but today Scottie is the “star” of a shameful political commercial in which he assails challenger Weston Wamp on behalf of a panicked Chuck Fleischmann. Mayfield, you’ll remember, ran against the two in the last race for the District ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Hosts Sacramento Gold Saturday At 7:30

The Chattanooga Football Club will host yet another playoff soccer game on Saturday as Sacramento Gold comes to town in the National NPSL final four semifinal game.  The NPSL National semifinals are powered by Mitre.  Midwest region champions Lansing United will play Northeast region champions Red Buls U23s in New York on Sunday in the other semifinal match.  The ... (click for more)

Montgomery Stops Lookouts Thursday, 6-4

The Chattanooga Lookouts jumped out to an early lead, but committed four errors on their way to a 6-4 loss at the hands of the Montgomery Biscuits. Recap Lookouts' center fielder Darnell Sweeney started the game on a positive note for Chattanooga, leading off the bottom of the first with a single. Noel Cuevas followed up Sweeney's single with a line drive base hit of ... (click for more)