LANCASTER – Shelley Rubin, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit aimed at stopping the City of Lancaster from opening City Council meetings with prayer, is gearing up for a lengthy battle with the City. Rubin is no stranger to this issue. Her late husband, Irv Rubin, won a similar battle against the City of Burbank 10 years ago.
Rubin was a featured guest Monday on “Chasing the Why*,” a local radio show on KOSS 1380, hosted by Lancaster resident Andrew Pari. During the hour-long interview she covered many topics, including the similar case her husband won against the City of Burbank, her motivation for the lawsuit, her reaction to her initial loss, and her plans for the case.
The following are some excerpts from Rubin’s interview.
On why her late husband waged a similar battle – and won – against the City of Burbank 10 years ago:
“Before the [Burbank City] meeting started they had an invocation that was made in the name of Jesus and it really really hit my husband very hard. He moved here with his parents from Canada. He used to dream as a child of being an American because this is a place where there is freedom of religion and in Canada he remembered no Jews or dogs allowed on some businesses… so my husband went to one of his attorneys, Roger Diamond of Santa Monica, and they filed a suit against the City of Burbank …and the state of California, the judges here overwhelming supported my husband that it was wrong to have denominational prayers at city council meetings, and the state appellant court upheld it.”
On why she decided to file a similar lawsuit against the City of Lancaster:
“We got word that the City of Lancaster was trying to circumvent the rule of land in California with this ballot measure that overwhelming passed by the voters…I went to the first City Council meeting after that vote and a minister, I can’t remember his name, he is African American… he is there all the time. He got up and made statements in his leadup to his invocation that really really bothered me. It made me feel like I was an outsider. I thought he was very disrespectful, and then he gives this lovely lovely prayer asking for wisdom and tenacity and whatever for the City Council, and then he says ‘we say this in Jesus name’… He is not forbidden to do that, that’s the problem. In fact, the City of Lancaster wants them to do that…”
On her co-plaintiff, Lancaster resident Maureen Feller:
“She knows so much about the City, the inner workings of your City Council, and all this meshugge, as we say in Yiddish, all this craziness… that your City leader seems to have a hold on that City.”
On why Shelley Rubin and Maureen I. Feller v. City of Lancaster bypassed the state courts:
“Instead of letting the case proceed in the state courts, the City decided to pull a fast one and kick it up to the Federal Courts where they felt that they would have a better chance. And when they got the notification that was done, they acted like it was a big victory, but it wasn’t a victory. It was a procedural thing. And needless to say, they were allowed to do it as a matter of fact. But our point was that they went ahead and they violated the laws of this state by encouraging sectarian prayer. But they evidently wanted to waste more of the tax payers’ money and take it up to the Federal level… By the luck of the draw they got a conservative judge and she ruled their way.”
On U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer’s ruling in favor of the City of Lancaster:
“I feel that Judge Fischer was nitpicking and she made a big point of saying ‘was it there’ and ‘when was this’? I don’t think she wanted the job of decided this… I was disappointed in this… Since we did lose, I did pay the fees to appeal and we are definitely appealing.”
On the future of Shelley Rubin and Maureen I. Feller v. City of Lancaster:
“I believe this case will go to the Supreme Court… I think we are going to make history.”
Read the Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law After Prayer Case. Read the Judgment here.
(*Chasing The Why is a call-in talk radio show that addresses social issues and controversies in the Antelope Valley. CTW airs every Monday at 11am on KOSS 1380am (livestream at www.tunein.com) with host, Andrew Pari, L.C.S.W. Informative, entertaining and always open to debate. We’re not afraid to ask. Are you afraid to listen? Come on, join us…. let’s chase some whys!)