HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) on Thursday issued a statement concerning House prayer policy.
“On Aug. 23, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit ruled in the House’s favor in the Fields vs. Speaker Mike Turzai lawsuit.
“First, by a 2-1 vote, the panel held the House’s prayer practices constitutional because they fit within the long history of legislative prayer in this country.
“The majority found our prayer comports with the Supreme Court’s presumption that legislative prayer invokes a higher power.
“And the majority explained that ‘only theistic prayer can satisfy the historical purpose of appealing for divine guidance in lawmaking.’
“Secondly, the Third Circuit panel ruled, by a unanimous 3-0 vote, that the request that members and guests rise for the prayer and Pledge was constitutional and not coercive.
“This week, we received an order from Judge Christopher Conner of the federal district court in Harrisburg formally lifting the injunction.
“The House will resume our chamber’s traditional session-opening prayer delivered by guest chaplains from a diverse array of faith traditions when we return to session on Oct. 21.
“We are pleased that the Third Circuit found that our prayer complies with the U.S. Constitution and has issued a precedent-setting decision entirely in the House’s favor and further that Judge Conner complied with the court’s mandate in lifting the injunction.
“We look forward to returning to our practice of welcoming guest chaplains as we have in the past.”