Kansas woman who claimed police told her to stop praying in her home fights court ruling

Mary Anne Sause, a Louisburg, Kansas, woman who says she was ordered by local police to stop praying in her home and told that a copy of the Constitution she showed them was "just a piece of paper," has appealed a district court's ruling that officers did not violate her First Amendment.

First Liberty Institute appealed the district court's ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit last Wednesday, arguing that the officers' conduct violated Sause's First Amendment right to pray in her own home and to be free from retaliation for exercising that right, according to information provided by the First Liberty Institute.

Sause, a retired Catholic nurse on disability and rape survivor, was at home on the night of Nov. 22, 2013, when two police officers approached her door and demanded to be allowed in. Sause said the officers did not identify themselves, and she could not see them through her broken peephole, so she did not open her door.

The officers left, but returned later and demanded that Sause let them in. When Sause came to the door and the officers asked why she didn't answer the first time, she showed them a copy of a pocket Constitution given to her by her congressman.

One officer laughed and said, "That's just a piece of paper" that "doesn't work here," while still not explaining the reason for their presence at her home. She said once the officers were inside they continued to harass her, telling her at one point that she should get ready to go to jail.

When Sause asked why, the officer told her, "I don't know yet."

It was at this point, explained First Liberty, that a frightened Sause asked one officer's permission to pray. The officer allowed the prayer but shortly after she started praying silently the second officer in her home ordered her to "get up" and "stop praying" and she complied immediately.

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