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Plaintiffs in Carroll prayer case drop ban request

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging Christian prayers at Carroll County commissioner meetings have dropped a request for a temporary ban on the practice.

The plaintiffs, a humanist group and residents who say they feel alienated by the prayers, said that instead they intend to ask the judge to make a final judgment in the case.

The commissioners have already filed papers making the same request.

U.S. District Court Judge William D. Quarles previously banned the commissioners from praying to Jesus at the beginning of their meetings, saying it was likely the plaintiffs would win the case. But Quarles withdrew the ban after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Christian prayers should be allowed in a New York town.

The commissioners want the judge to rule in their favor on legal issues without the need to hold a trial, according to court filings.

Their lawyers argued in the filings that the case has been improperly brought because the individual commissioners are immune to lawsuits for carrying out their legislative work. Even if the judge rules on the issue of the prayers themselves, the attorneys wrote that they do not violate the First Amendment.

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