THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS
Ken Paxton

AG Paxton Intervenes in Lawsuit to Protect Religious Freedom of Montgomery County Judge Wayne Mack

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 – Austin

Furthering his actions to protect the religious freedom of all Texans, Attorney General Ken Paxton, on behalf of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit involving Montgomery County Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack’s practice of allowing volunteer chaplains to open his court proceedings in prayer. Attorney General Paxton made the announcement during a news conference at the county courthouse in Conroe.

Earlier this year, the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit against Judge Mack in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, arguing that his courtroom prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Last August, Attorney General Paxton, in response to a request from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, issued an attorney general opinion that Judge Mack’s practice follows the model the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Town of Greece v. Galloway.

The motion to intervene on behalf of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement explains that government bodies and courts throughout Texas solemnize their meetings with prayer. The Commission includes a prayer at the beginning of its meetings, after the color guard and Pledge of Allegiance. The Commission’s practices, like those of Judge Mack, are deeply rooted in our nation’s history and tradition, and the U.S. Supreme Court has long upheld such practices.

After filing the intervention, Attorney General Paxton said: “The lawsuit against Judge Mack is an affront to religious liberty and yet another attempt to push religious expression from public life. The Commission’s prayer practice, like Judge Mack’s courtroom prayer, is completely consistent with our nation’s history of protecting religious expression.”

To view a copy of the intervention, click here.

To view Attorney General Opinion KP-0109, click here