A split federal appeals panel late yesterday stuck to its guns in finding — for a second time — that an atheist drunk driver’s constitutional rights were violated when he was forced, as a condition of probation, to participate in a religion-tinged Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) program.

The 2-1 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the latest post-remand conclusions of a lower court: that the Orange County probationer, Robert Warner, did not waive his constitutional claims by volunteering for the A.A. program and then failing to object to it at sentencing or on appeal.

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