SALEM — A federal judge will allow part of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Salem's The Satanic Temple against the Boston City Council to go forward.
The organization, which files suits around the country centering on the First Amendment's religious establishment clause — the section that prohibits the government from creating an official religion — went to federal court in January, contending that the Boston City Council had not invited it to deliver an invocation at a council meeting.
Judge Allison Burroughs concluded that while the organization had not shown that it was being "selectively discriminated against" by the council, nor that the Boston council had violated the organization's right to free speech, she did find that there there is an open question as to whether the process of choosing someone to deliver an invocation potentially favors what the Temple called "Abrahamic" religious organizations.
"Given the fact-specific nature of the inquiry into the constitutionality of legislative prayer schemes and the lack of controlling authority from the First Circuit or Supreme Court, this court will not dismiss (The Satanic Temple's) Establishment Clause claim at the motion to dismiss stage," Burroughs wrote in a 16-page decision Wednesday.
"In this unsettled arena, taking into account the specific facts alleged in this case, TST has plausibly raised a claim that (Boston City Council's) prayer selection policy has discriminated against it in violation of the Establishment Clause," the judge concluded.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.