Sign up for our free newsletter
Remember the “prayer in public schools” ballot measure proposed in August by District activist Chuck Ballard? The initiative, which would permit voluntary classroom prayer, needed approval from the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics before Ballard could collect signatures to put it on the ballot. Measures are usually judged only on technical requirements. The prayer initiative complied with these standards, but the board rejected it anyway. On Oct. 25, the Board held that the initiative, which runs counter to 30 years of Supreme Court decisions, was “patently unconstitutional.” The early rejection might avert fruitless canvassing, but not legal squabbling—Ballard is appealing. The decision follows a ruling by the D.C. Superior Court that the board may reject obviously unconstitutional ballot measures. But the question remains, should the Board of Elections—an independent agency with no judicial authority—decide which voter initiatives are constitutional and which aren’t?