April 21- April 24, 2017
Omni Shoreham Hotel 
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Sunday, April 23 • 2:45pm - 3:45pm
§1983- Prayer, Prisons, and Public Fora: Flashpoints at the Intersection of Religion and Municipal Practice

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The intersection of religion and municipal operations is rife with seemingly intractable legal questions. Legislative prayer has been approved but if a municipality relies on outside prayer-givers to deliver the prayers that open deliberative-body meetings, must clergy from all religions be allowed to pray? Are there limitations that arise when government employees do the praying? How many objects need to be alongside a Ten Commandments monument or a crèche for the display to pass muster? When must religious speakers be given access to public fora? And what about statutory protections in this area, such as those provided by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)? In these and other contexts not only is the devil in the details, but municipal attorneys may reasonably feel that any choice -- either to recognize religion or to ignore it -- will get the client ensnared in litigation by one "side" or the other. And because the outcome in many of the cases are highly fact-intensive and arguably politically driven, it can be difficult to predict how any particular situation will fare. The panel will canvas some of the trickier areas of the law in this context, clarify what is clear and what remains undecided, and offer some practical advice for steering clear of liability.

Sunday April 23, 2017 2:45pm - 3:45pm EDT
Blue Room