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Supreme Court rules that yes, states and towns may pray

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  • Supreme Court rules that yes, states and towns may pray





    A divided Supreme Court, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said on Monday that the town of Greece, N.Y., can begin its town meetings with a religious prayer, delivered almost exclusively by Christian clergy.

    The ruling had been long-anticipated and widely debated since case arguments were heard last November.

    Officially, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to overturn a lower court ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, with the Court’s conservative leaning Justices voting to overturn the prayer restriction established by the lower court.

    Justice Kennedy said the town’s prayer practice does not violate the Establishment Clause under the First Amendment.

    “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amend*ment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents. The judgment of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is reversed,” Kennedy said.

    Kennedy said that, “the prayer in this case has a permissible ceremonial purpose. It is not an uncon*stitutional establishment of religion.”

    “The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers,” he said.

    The decision was the first time since 1983 that the Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of legislative prayers. In that case, Marsh v. Chambers, the Supreme Court considered a challenge to the Nebraska legislature’s practice of employing a Presbyterian minister, who lead the legislature in prayer for 16 years, and concluded that such prayers did not violate the Establishment Clause.
    The full opinion.
    It's been ten years since that lonely day I left you
    In the morning rain, smoking gun in hand
    Ten lonely years but how my heart, it still remembers
    Pray for me, momma, I'm a gypsy now

  • #2
    This sounds like the right decision. Town councils have no business messing around in doctrinal issues. If the town is by a reservation and a bunch of the council members are Native Americans, I expect they would pick a Native guy to do a Native prayer. If the town council is mostly Asian, they might pick some Buddhist prayer or Confucian statement. A lot of Hispanics would probably lean toward a Catholic prayer form just as a place with a strong black church presence would hew more toward a Protestant prayer.

    An invocation or prayer at the start of citizen business within government isn't an endorsement or establishment.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    • #3
      On Friday our courthouse celebrated Law Day, as is its custom. The festivities opened with a prayer led by one of our attorneys. A few years ago one of the teachers whose student was one of the essay contest winners was sitting next to me in the audience. She was beside herself at the "inappropriateness" of the beginning prayer.

      All of our naturalization ceremonies begin with an invocation by a clergyman. Usually Christian, sometimes Catholic. I don't recall ever seeing an imam or a rabbi, although admittedly I don't go to all of them.
      Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
      Robert Southwell, S.J.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by phillygirl View Post
        On Friday our courthouse celebrated Law Day, as is its custom. The festivities opened with a prayer led by one of our attorneys. A few years ago one of the teachers whose student was one of the essay contest winners was sitting next to me in the audience. She was beside herself at the "inappropriateness" of the beginning prayer.

        All of our naturalization ceremonies begin with an invocation by a clergyman. Usually Christian, sometimes Catholic. I don't recall ever seeing an imam or a rabbi, although admittedly I don't go to all of them.
        The terminally insulted who have no idea what the constitution actually says.

        I probably would have started a convo to ascertain why she was so upset. Would have been fun.

        "Ma'am, were you forced to recite a prayer?"
        "Is hearing a prayer that offensive to you/"
        "Did you have the opportunity to leave and not hear the prayer?"



        Ignorance is bliss, and I was stationed at Ft Bliss and have seen a lifetime of ignorance.
        Last edited by Gramps; Monday, May 5, 2014, 7:24 PM.
        Robert Francis O'Rourke, Democrat, White guy, spent ~78 million to defeat, Ted Cruz, Republican immigrant Dark guy …
        and lost …
        But the Republicans are racist.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gramps View Post
          The terminally insulted who have no idea what the constitution actually says.

          I probably would have started a convo to ascertain why she was so upset. Would have been fun.

          "Ma'am, were you forced to recite a prayer?"
          "Is hearing a prayer that offensive to you/"
          "Did you have the opportunity to leave and not hear the prayer?"



          Ignorance is bliss, and I was stationed at Ft Bliss and have seen a lifetime of ignorance.
          I was fortunate enough to have had a conversation with her a few weeks prior about the second amendment. It was delicious.
          Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
          Robert Southwell, S.J.

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