Skip to comments.SCOTUS: Town of Greece v. Galloway (Prayer at town meetings)
Posted on 05/05/2014 7:38:59 AM PDT by BuckeyeTexan
Since 1999, the monthly town board meetings in Greece, New York, have opened with a roll call, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and a prayer given by clergy selected from the congregations listed in a local directory. While the prayer program is open to all creeds, nearly all of the local congregations are Christian; thus, nearly all of the participating prayer givers have been too. Respondents, citizens who attend meetings to speak on local issues, filed suit, alleging that the town violated the First Amendments Establishment Clause by preferring Christians over other prayer givers and by sponsoring sectarian prayers.
JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IIB, concluding that the towns prayer practice does not violate the Establishment Clause.
JUSTICE KENNEDY, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE ALITO, concluded in Part IIB that a fact-sensitive inquiry that considers both the setting in which the prayer arises and the audience to whom it is directed shows that the town is not coercing its citizens to engage in a religious observance.
JUSTICE THOMAS, joined by JUSTICE SCALIA as to Part II, agreed that the towns prayer practice does not violate the Establishment Clause, but concluded that, even if the Establishment Clause were properly incorporated against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, the Clause is not violated by the kind of subtle pressures respondents allegedly suffered, which do not amount to actual legal coercion.
KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part IIB. ROBERTS, C. J., and ALITO, J., joined the opinion in full, and SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined except as to Part IIB. ALITO, J., filed a con- curring opinion, in which SCALIA, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opin- ion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which SCALIA, J., joined as to Part II. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.
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Can you give us the gist...what number of justices for and against? Was prayer allowed to continue before the town meetings???
This ruling was 5-4. When you sit out of presidential elections you also sit out of the Supreme Court nominees.
This ruling should have been 9-0
5-4 that prayers do not violate 1A and may continue. The details are in the last paragraph above.
AMEN! (no pun intended)
My ability to decipher lawyers diminishes with age.
Thanks for the cliff notes version. Will read the whole thing later
They can pray. You can guess the ones against it.
But it WAS a ruling allowing prayers before council or other government meetings.
Now the ACLU can go pound sand. They have made a living taking towns to court over this issue...making stupid demands.
Almost fitting, in a way, that a town called Greece named after the place democracy was born, should prevail.
“...BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined....”
Gee.... the three commie cows and their shill Breyer dissented...
THERE’s a surprise.
Sounds like a random selection from the religion page in the phone book.
That cannot possibly be biased. Any group can have their name listed. I'd require, of course, that it be a group with an ADDRESS within the boundaries of the town and members with residences within reasonable distances from the town, but those are the only controls I'd place on any group also including their phone number in the directory.
I didn't notice that. How poignant.
My guess of the lineup would put a wise Latina opposing these prayers.
BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined.
Well, at least the ACTUAL wording of the Constitution is used instead of Jefferson’s letter’s wording!
Seriously, this is NOT “establishment”. Having words etched in marble on the hall is closer to establishment, yet the Founders and their successors did not mind that on the Supreme Court building.
Establishment is declaring the sect/religion as the official religion of the nation and putting a tax on everyone for its support regardless of affiliation, and penalties for those who refuse.
When liberals lose there is no such thing as "the debate is over," or "the law is settled." They will continue to file suits and leftists judges will continue to substitute their own beliefs for the SCOTUS ruling and the Constitution.
> the town is not coercing its citizens to engage in a religious observance.
Well, this is good news, but the ruling should have indeed been 9-0 as one FReeper noted. Prayers at government functions and meetings do not create an established religion, and it would be impossible to define a standard that said if such prayers took place, they would have to represent all religions equally. Would satanists have to have equal time even if there wasn’t a single satanist within 100 miles of the prayer location?
The simplest standard and one that could be easily and fairly applied to all is to permit the town to hold whatever prayers it wants—consistent with the generally held religious beliefs of its citizens—so long as participation is not mandatory.
As a Christian, I think other religions are wrong, but I certainly respect the right of other Americans to practice those religions or no religion at all. I wouldn’t be offended if a city council composed mostly of nonbelievers simply had no prayer at all, and I’d be respectful if the majority had a different religion (and prayer) from my own.
There is, of course, another enforceable standard, and that would be to prohibit all religious expression in any government or publicly funded forum and enforce the ban with force. That would involve policing everything said or done to ensure a name like Jesus was never uttered. It would literally require a 1984 Orwellian state, and I hope most Americans still prefer liberty.
Speaking of prayer, we should pray to and petition Our Lord Jesus to watch over Justices Roberts, Thomas, Kennedy, Scalia and Alito that they may have good health and continue on the bench; and that Roberts and Kennedy do not stray from the true meaning of our Republic’s Constitution, and to always interpret it so to allow the most rights to the citizens and keep the government’s powers in check.
If anything happens to these five, and Obama gets to name a successor, then decisions like this will go 4-5 rather than 5-4!
to 4 out of 9 justices liberalism is the only permissable religion, that and Islam.
The Supreme Court used to devise standards for how to apply the constitution. For example, we’ve all heard the “shouting fire in a crowded theater” First Amendment standard (that no longer exists BTW). A major problem with recent rulings is they lack any consistent, easily understood standard. Each case now seems to be arbitrarily decided based on who can convince a majority of justices. A ruling today can (and often does) completely contradict a ruling yesterday or tomorrow.
I really only see two possible standards in regards to religious expression. We seem to be moving toward the first which is a complete ban on all religion in government. That’s difficult to justify as it directly contradicts the plain text of the US Constitution as well as the historical record of free exercise of religion by government. The second standard is one where anyone—even a government official—is free to express themselves (religious speech notwithstanding) so long as religious speech or participation isn’t mandated.
Some people will no doubt be offended by the latter standard, but I think it’s consistent with American ideals of liberty, equal treatment under the law, and respect for others.
Prayer is permitted. 5-4, with the typical 5 most conservative vs the 4 most liberal.
Indeed. The Constitution does not guarantee the right to not be offended.
To the liberal justices, I'm sure there's a random penumbra or hidden emanation that would guarantee it.
As a Christian, I’m regularly offended by non-religious speech. I hear people cursing all the time, and they disrespect my Lord’s name. Nevertheless, I would never, ever use government to try and eliminate such offensive speech!
It’s very foolish, in my opinion, to ask government to regulate offensive speech, because who gets to determine what’s offensive? It’s entirely subjective. Anyone who uses government like that against their fellow citizens may very well see that power turned against themselves at some point! It’s like playing with fire.
Kinda like privacy.
Exactly. In the fairness of “Congress shall make no law”, having this filter down to local venues is remarkable.
The Founders NEVER intended for prayer removed from all government proceedings, they intended for Congress NEVER to make it mandatory.
BTW, this should also take care of prayers at HS football games and everything else.