4th Circuit Court of Appeals

Rowan County Commissioners listen to a chaplain's prayer before a meeting in June 2017.
Rowan County

Lawyers for Rowan County on Thursday formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it's legal for commissioners to lead prayer before their meetings.

Rowan County Commissioners listen to a chaplain's prayer before a meeting in June 2017.
Rowan County

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Rowan County’s practice of having elected officials open meetings with Christian prayer and asking residents to join is unconstitutional. That reverses a previous 2016 decision from the same circuit. 

scales of justice
Scott*/Flickr

The federal appeals court has rejected a challenge to a 2015 state law that lets North Carolina magistrates opt out of marrying same-sex couples on religious grounds. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Wednesday that the three couples who challenged the law lacked standing to sue and were not harmed by the law.

vote here sign
Erik (HASH) Hersman / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Updated 1:25 p.m.
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear an appeal seeking to reinstate North Carolina's controversial 2013 overhaul of voting laws, including  voter ID.  The decision lets stand a 2016 appeals court ruling that invalidated the law, saying it targeted African Americans.  Meanwhile, legislative Republicans are vowing to find another way revive an ID requirement for voting. 

Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse
Taber Andrew Bain from Richmond, VA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers for the state of North Carolina and three gay couples argued in federal appeals court Wednesday over a state law that lets magistrates refuse to perform gay marriages on religious grounds. At issue is whether the couples have the right to sue, even if another magistrate performs the service. 

A federal appeals court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case over whether local magistrates can refuse to marry gay couples on religious grounds. Three couples had challenged SB2, a 2015 state law passed to protect magistrates after gay marriage became legal. 

An Alcoa dam on Badin Lake.
Julie Rose / WFAE

North Carolina's lawsuit over ownership of the Yadkin riverbed isn't over, even though a federal appeals court ruled against the state this week. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Stein says the state will ask for a re-hearing of the case before all 15 judges at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

Rowan County offices in Salisbury.
Rowan County

The First Amendment prohibits establishment of an official religion in the U.S.  When a government body steers too close to that, federal courts have stepped in to decide what's legal and what's not.  The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, now is considering a case from Rowan County, northeast of Charlotte. At issue is whether county commissioners should be allowed to lead Christian prayers before their meetings. WFAE's David Boraks has been following the case, and talked with All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey.

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has agreed to re-hear a case on whether it's legal for Rowan County commissioners to deliver Christian prayers before their meetings. That invalidates a September ruling by a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the practice was constitutional.

A federal appeals court says it's legal for Rowan County Commissioners to deliver prayers before their meetings. The decision out Monday reverses a lower court ruling that declared the practice unconstitutional.

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