Lawsuit filed against ETX county over 'In God We Trust' display and prayer

Lawsuit filed against ETX county over 'In God We Trust' display and prayer

WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas county is calling for a decision to be made in a lawsuit one resident filed against them.

Wood County Commissioner's Court is being sued by a Hawkins resident. That resident says the court's prayer before meetings and the words "In God We Trust" written on the courtroom wall are unconstitutional.

"The [United States] Supreme Court says it's ok. Most importantly, the constitution says it's ok and the county is doing it right," says Bryan Hughes, one of the attorneys representing the county in the case.

In a 22-page motion, Wood County's attorneys say the constitution is clear. They say both the "In God We Trust" display, and their routine prayer, are constitutional.

The prayer is something the county has been doing for 27 years. Hughes says the country has been doing it since day one.

"To come now and say it's unconstitutional, when it has been part of our history since even before our constitution, the very men who wrote the constitution participated in prayer opening legislative bodies," Hughes says.

The Hawkins man who filed his five page petition says the prayers imply that the court handles county affairs in a way consistent with the Christian Bible. He also says the court's actions misrepresent and disparage said God and Christianity.

The county says the motto, "In God We Trust," was paid for by private donations; therefore residents cannot complain about tax payer money being used for something they may not support.

If the county's motion is granted, the dispute will be over. But, if a judge sides with the man who brought forward the case, then the next step will be to go to trial.

A hearing on the county's motion for summary judgement is currently scheduled for October 16, 2012 at 9 a.m.

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