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Settlement talks fail in Md. public prayer case; Supreme Court ruling interpretation disputed

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BALTIMORE — The opposing parties in a Maryland public prayer lawsuit say their attempt to negotiate a settlement has failed.

Attorneys for Carroll County and the American Humanist Association filed the status report Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

They remain divided on the correct interpretation of a Supreme Court ruling in May allowing clergy to invoke specific deities in opening prayers at government meetings.

That ruling involved the town of Greece, New York. It didn't specifically address the Carroll County practice of having opening prayers said by elected commissioners. Some of them prefer overtly Christian prayers.

The plaintiffs contend that Christian prayers said by government officials violate the First Amendment prohibition on state-sponsored religion.

The county says the high court ruling favors its practice.

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