Illinois May Repeal Moment-Of-Silence Law

Illinois legislators are having second thoughts about a new law mandating that public schools observe a moment of silence for prayer or reflection after hearing an earful from teachers and school officials.

The Illinois legislature passed the measure over Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto last year, but now critics are saying the law is poorly worded, confusing and unenforceable. A federal court has put the law on hold, ruling that it is unconstitutionally vague.

The Illinois House of Representatives voted 72-31 last month to strike the law and return to the previous system, which allowed local schools the option to observe a moment of silence, reported the Chicago Tribune. Many lawmakers who supported the original bill reversed themselves.

“I think a number of my colleagues mistakenly viewed this as a referendum on religion last session,” Rep. John Fritchey, a Chicago Democrat, told the Tribune. “It isn’t….It’s about local control.”

Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling) said he supported the original bill but changed his mind after hearing from teachers and superintendents who are unhappy with it. He was one of 33 House members to change positions on the bill.

The repeal bill must still pass the Illinois Senate, where it is expected to encounter opposition led by senators who still support it.