Commissioners could choose defense firm today

  • Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:40 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, March 25, 2013 2:00 p.m.

SALISBURY — Rowan County commissioners are expected to choose a law firm today in their defense against a civil rights lawsuit that accused county leaders of violating personal freedoms by opening its meetings with Christian prayer.

Commissioners will meet at 3 p.m. for a closed session hearing in regards to the action filed earlier this month. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit on behalf of three Rowan County residents.

Chairman Jim Sides said Monday commissioners will meet with litigators during the closed session. Sides said he hopes to vote on a firm following the hearing.

“We’ll probably vote to retain one of those law firms to represent us in our defense of the ACLU lawsuit,” Sides said.

The civil rights organization accused county administrators of violating the First and 14th amendments by opening meetings with references to Jesus and Christianity. Plaintiffs cite a 2011 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that said sectarian prayer is unconstitutional.

Rowan residents Nan Lund, Liesa Montag-Siegel and Robert Voelker are named in the suit.

Commissioners have vowed to fight the action, again opening last week’s meeting with sectarian prayer.

Commissioners said the restriction would infringe on their First Amendment rights.

County leaders will meet in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Room in the Rowan County administration building.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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