Federal Court Rejects Attack on Judge’s Mack’s Multi-Faith Invocations

By: Peyton Luke
| Published 09/30/2022


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX -- oday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld in favor of Texas Judge Wayne Mack’s practice of recognizing volunteer chaplains—including Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian religious leaders—who sometimes open court sessions with a brief invocation. First Liberty Institute and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP represent Judge Mack.

A copy of the opinion can be found at firstliberty.org

“The Fifth Circuit rightly concluded that Judge Mack’s brief ceremony respects a rich historical tradition of opening judicial proceedings with an invocation,” said Bradley Hubbard, the Gibson Dunn attorney who argued the case in April. “As the Court explained, the ‘history, character, and context’ of Judge Mack’s ceremony ‘show that it is no establishment at all.’”

“I am eternally grateful to the judges on the Fifth Circuit who upheld this historical practice,” said Judge Mack. “I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Montgomery County.”

“America has a rich tradition of opening public meetings—including judicial proceedings—with an invocation,” Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty, said. “Welcoming a volunteer chaplain to lead an invocation according to the tradition of his or her faith reflects the very best of our nation’s values.”

In July 2021, the Fifth Circuit issued a stay permitting Judge Mack, a Montgomery County Justice of the Peace, to continue allowing volunteer chaplains to offer invocations at the start of his court sessions while a lawsuit against him is considered.

Judge Mack, whose duties also include serving as a coroner for Montgomery County, created a volunteer chaplaincy program, which includes leaders from a diverse array of faith traditions, to aid members of the community while he conducts independent death investigations. In his role as Justice of the Peace, Judge Mack allows the multi-faith, volunteer chaplains to open his courtroom ceremonies with a brief invocation and the pledge of allegiance in order to honor their service.