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Federal court tosses appeal in dispute over Pittsylvania County board meeting invocations

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RICHMOND, Virginia — A federal court has dismissed an appeal over the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors' practice of opening meetings with a prayer.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled Wednesday that it did not have jurisdiction because the county didn't file its appeal within the appropriate timeframe.

The county had appealing a judge's ruling last year barring the board from opening meetings with prayers associated with a specific religion.

Pittsylvania resident Barbara Hudson filed the lawsuit in 2011, claiming the Christian invocations violate the Constitution's prohibition against government establishment of a religion.

The county argued that the Supreme Court has upheld such traditions of allowing members to open meetings with prayers as long as it isn't used to proselytize or to disparage any faith.

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