Atheist sues for not being allowed to give ENOUGH invocations

 March 11, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A Wyoming atheist who sued the city of Gillette because city officials didn't let him deliver an invocation at a city meeting as often as he demanded wanted $24 million for the offense, but now has lost at the state Supreme Court.

It was Bruce Williams who sued Gillette Mayor Shay Lundvall demanding that he should be allowed to deliver invocations at meetings in the same proportion as there are atheists in Wyoming. Pew Research suggests some 3% of Wyoming residents say they are atheists, so Williams presumably was arguing to deliver invocations at 3% of the meetings, meaning about three every eight years if the meetings were monthly.

He had been permitted to deliver his speech at least once a year for the last nine years.

But a report at Cowboy State Daily explained he demanded more.

District Judge Stuart S. Healy III originally dismissed the case, explaining the city and mayor have immunity from lawsuits under these circumstances.

The state Supreme Court now has agreed, the report explained.

Williams also had complained he was required to cite the Pledge of Allegiance, to which he objected because it includes the words "under God."

The decision from the high court said, "We acknowledge Mr. Williams’s efforts to convince us to allow his complaint to proceed. However, '(the) decision of whether to waive immunity for a governmental entity – belongs to the Wyoming Legislature, not this court.'"

The decision was written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden.

Under Wyoming's Constitution, the state and its political subdivisions are immune from lawsuits unless the lawmakers authorize them.

Their latest update on that issue came in 1979 when they adopted the Wyoming Governmental Immunity Act which provides permission for lawsuits for specific situations.

That law also, the court ruling said, while allowing some contract lawsuits, is not a tool for launching civil rights fights.

That would be, the ruling said, a federal law.

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