ACLU lawsuit challenges part of Amendment Two | St. Louis Public Radio

ACLU lawsuit challenges part of Amendment Two

Aug 8, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit late this afternoon that takes issue with part of Amendment Two, which deals with prayer and religious expression in Missouri.  

Amendment Two specifically protects public prayer and lets students avoid assignments that violate their religious beliefs.

Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU’s eastern Missouri division, said the lawsuit is focused on this specific phrase:

This section shall not be construed to expand the rights of prisoners in state or local custody beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States.

But he said Missouri’s constitution provides greater religious protection than federal law, and that line would remove those extra freedoms for prisoners.

“Some have hair restrictions or diet restrictions; these are all rights that could be in jeopardy,” Rothert said.

And Rothert expects this case to open the door to other legal challenges. 

“I think there are likely to be quite a few challenges to Amendment Two, either challenges to the law or instances in which Amendment Two is used for a defense where for activity that violates the First Amendment or the separation of state and church,” Rothert said.

A spokesperson for the Missouri Attorney General’s Offices said they haven’t seen the lawsuit yet, and they have no comment. 

The Missouri Department of Corrections did not respond for a request for comment.

For an in-depth report on Amendment Two, click HERE.