On October 15, 2010, in Sherman v. Koch, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Illinois’ Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, which requires schools to observe a daily period for “silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.” As we reported in a previous FR Alert, the court held that there was a secular purpose behind the daily reflection period, specifically calming students and preparing them for learning.
Sherman appealed the Seventh Circuit’s decision to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the court should hear the case because there were split decisions among federal appeals courts concerning such laws. Sherman argued that the case would allow the Supreme Court to consider the rights of atheists and their children to be free from religious influence at public schools. The case, however, posed some procedural problems, namely the fact that Sherman’s daughter was no longer a public school student. Accordingly, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Since the Act is still in force, Districts should implement moments of silence during each school day.