Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

After a roughly two-year court battle, a state superior court judge ruled Tuesday that the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s invocation policy is unconstitutional. However, this may not be the end of the road for the case. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly still needs to decide whether to appeal Tuesday’s ruling.  

The court’s decision found that the borough assembly’s 2016 rewrite of its invocation policy took a step toward establishing an official religion by excluding “minority faiths,” therefore violating the state Constitution’s Establishment Clause.  

Assembly invocation policy gets day in court

Apr 13, 2018
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

After more than a year of legal wrangling, the borough’s invocation policy was center stage for oral arguments in Alaska Superior Court Wednesday. KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran spoke with Peninsula Clarion reporter Elizabeth Earl, who was in court Wednesday to hear the arguments.


Renee Gross, KBBI News

In the summer of 2016, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly became embroiled in a contentious battle over opening its meetings with prayer. The assembly put what some consider an unconstitutional policy in place after a member of the Satanic Temple ended an invocation with “Hail Satan.” Little over a year later, the battle is ongoing.

Courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough has been in a legal battle over its invocation policy for months. Hearings in that case aren’t scheduled until early 2018, but the borough has settled another court battle. Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Willy Dunne settled his lawsuit last week over a legal agreement Borough Mayor Mike Navarre entered, contracting legal services in the invocation case. 

Borough Assembly Upholds Invocation Policy

Jan 4, 2017
Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is standing behind their controversial invocation policy.

At their Jan. 3 meeting, Assembly President Kelly Cooper introduced an amendment to the policy that would have allowed individuals who share a common “interest or belief” to be able to give the invocation.

That amendment failed in a 6 to 3 vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the Kenai Peninsula Borough on Dec. 14 over the invocation policy.

Photo courtesy of the ACLU of Alaska

The ACLU of Alaska is following through with its threat to sue the Kenai Peninsula Borough over its invocation policy.

In the lawsuit filed on Dec. 14 in Anchorage Superior Court, the ACLU alleges the policy currently in place violates constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.

Latest Effort To Revise Invocation Policy Stalls

Nov 23, 2016
Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

For the past four months, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has debated whether it should restrict who is allowed to give the invocation, or prayer, that begins each meeting.

The controversy began in early August, when a member of the Satanic Temple gave the invocation. In response, the Borough Assembly instituted a new policy in which only people or associations on a pre-approved list may give the invocation.

Critics say this restrictive policy may put the Borough at risk of a lawsuit, but efforts to amend it have stalled.

Borough Assembly May Appropriate Funds to Defend Invocation Policy in Court

Nov 14, 2016
Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was updated to reflect the ACLU of Alaska's stance on a resolution proposed to fix the invocation policy.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre has proposed an ordinance that would pay for legal costs related to the Borough Assembly’s new invocation policy.

According to a memorandum from the Mayor’s office released Nov. 9, the Assembly has "received numerous comments challenging the legality" of the invocation policy.

The proposed ordinance would appropriate $75,000 to cover legal costs if the invocation policy is challenged in court. The ACLU of Alaska has already stated that, as the invocations policy stands, it is unconstitutional and they plan to challenge it in court.

Image courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has voted to override Mayor Mike Navarre's veto of the Assembly's new invocation policy resolution.

Joshua Decker is the Executive Director of The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.

Decker says he is disappointed in the Assembly’s action.