In 2016, three residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough were prevented from delivering an invocation at a Borough Assembly meeting because they were neither borough chaplains nor members of a qualifying religious association. These three residents sued the borough, claiming that the Borough Assembly’s speaker selection policy violated the Alaska Constitution’s Establishment Clause. The superior court ruled for the plaintiffs, holding that the selection policy constituted a step towards the establishment of a state religion. Applying Supreme Court precedent, the superior court reached the correct result. However, the limited amount of federal precedent on the principles guiding speaker selection policies has led to significant variance of application in different jurisdictions. Important questions remain regarding the scope of legislative prayer doctrine in Alaska, which still need to be addressed.
Charles Truslow & Craig Jones,
Hunt V. Kenai Peninsula Borough: The Search For Clarity In Legislative Prayer Speaker Selection,
36 Alaska Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol36/iss1/7