Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack in Montgomery County has been in and out of courtrooms since 2017, when an atheist group sued him, and back in July his case looked promising when a federal court granted Mack a temporary stay pending the lawsuit.
In an update to that legal fight, First Liberty Institute is taking the case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hoping that court will return religious freedom to Judge Mack's courtroom.
Jeremy Dys, a First Liberty attorney, says Mack is not only a judge but also the county coroner and he often asks for chaplains to help at the scene of a death.
“He invited people from all over the county, a variety of religious faiths: Christian, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, on and on,” says Dys, “whoever was willing to come out and be kind and loving towards people in their hour of need.”
The judge’s actions angered an atheist group, Freedom from Religion Foundation, which filed suit only to witness a three-judge panel rule in July that Mack and his attorneys “made a strong showing” that a lower court had erred on behalf of FFRF.
According to the 23-page ruling from the summer, which can be read here, the three-judge panel stated that legislatures routinely use tax dollars to pay for chaplains and, in the case of Mack, he is using “zero tax dollars” for the volunteer program.
That court order further states:
It’s undisputed that Judge Mack by contrast has taken multiple steps (including oral and written instructions) to facilitate non-participation in his opening ceremonies. Moreover, it’s undisputed that Judge Mack’s opening ceremonies are open to chaplains of all faiths—not just Christians.