Somehow, I Don't Think This Was What the ACLU Had in Mind
Yesterday, the Indiana Legislature gave its response to the earlier ruling (my views on that here). I've got to say, my estimate of the intelligence of these people we've elected has suddenly gone way up. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union rep and the IU constitutional lawyer both have to admit that there's no constitutional problem with a private prayer meeting before the session. And anyone can pray however they like. Being Indiana, of course, there aren't a whole lot of Wiccans or Hindus or even Jews. So it's the solution Rick Ritchie predicted (take a bow, Rick!). And from the grumpy way the IU law school guy had to acknowledge no law was broken, I think he realizes the truth of what I said in response to Rick's solution: that making opening prayers private actually marginalizes non-Christians in the legislature far more effectively and openly than any "in the name of Jesus Christ" tacked on at the end of an invocation ever could. (Take a look at the empty desks in that photo; if you refuse to participate in Christian prayer, you're going to feel awfully conspicuous!) . And every time they open that way, it's a protest and a photo-op in favor of God. (That's Judge David Hamilton -- doing his part to make sure Indiana votes Republican again in 2008.)
I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing -- but I'll worry about that later, I'm too busy savoring the turn-around. The ICLU won the battle and is losing the war.
Note also the role of Peggy Welch, our representative in the picture on the left, who opened the prayer and is a real pro-life, pro-family, pro-God, and pro-poor Democrat (although she does have nanny-state tendencies). Proud to be a supporter, Peggy!
UPDATE: There's a rather different take here, and another here; I'd be curious to know what readers think.
UPDATE II: The first permalink to the other view is still good, but the Baylys seem to have removed the post from their main page. Perhaps they are reconsidering.
UPDATE III: Tim Bayly has put up a new post that apologizes for a few of his comments in his earlier post, but still has important food for thought. So I've dropped the earlier link.