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Monday, May 20, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Case Involving Prayer at Town Council Meeting

The United States Supreme Court will hear a case involving prayer at town board meetings this term.  For about a decade, the Town of Greece council had opened its meetings with a Christian-oriented invocation. Residents brought suit, claiming that the town’s policy and practice was unconstitutional as it aligned the town with a particular faith – Christianity. Although the town council invited a few other faiths to participate, the majority of the invocations were of the Christian faith.  The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the residents, finding the town’s practice of opening each meeting with a prayer unconstitutional. According to the appeals court, the town should have made a greater effort to invite people from other faiths to open its monthly board meetings.  Town of Greece v. Galloway. 
The town appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case today.  The question the town presented to the Supreme Court is as follows:
Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause notwithstanding the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers or forbidden exploitation of the prayer opportunity.
The Supreme Court previously weighed in on the issue of prayer at legislative meetings in 1983, when it upheld the Nebraska state legislature’s practice of opening its legislative sessions with an invocation.  Marsh v. Chambers.    


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