Supreme Court Hears Case on Christian Legislative Prayer

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 05:51 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

A challenge to prayers at the start of a New York town's council meetings is the Supreme Court's latest attempt to find the appropriate role for religion in government.

The justices are hearing arguments Wednesday over opening prayers in the Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., that a federal appeals court said violated the Constitution because nearly every prayer in an 11-year span was overtly Christian.

Greece is being backed by the Obama administration and many social and religious conservative groups in arguing that the court settled this issue 30 years ago when it held that an opening prayer is part of the nation's fabric and not a violation of the First Amendment. Some of those groups want the court to go further and get rid of legal rules that tend to rein in religious expression in the public sphere.

On the other side are the two town residents who sued over the prayers and the liberal interest groups that support them. Greece residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens say they and others who attend the meetings are a captive audience and should not be subjected to sectarian prayers.

At its broadest, the outcome could extend well beyond prayer and also affect holiday displays, aid to religious schools, Ten Commandments markers and memorial crosses. More narrowly, the case could serve as a test of the viability of the decision in Marsh v. Chambers, the 1983 case that said prayer in the Nebraska Legislature did not violate the First Amendment's clause barring laws "respecting an establishment of religion," known as the Establishment Clause.

In Greece, every meeting was opened with a Christian-oriented invocation from 1999 through 2007, and again from January 2009 through June 2010. In 2008, after Galloway and Stephens complained, four of 12 meetings were opened by non-Christians, including a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and the chairman of the local Baha'i congregation.

The two residents filed suit and a trial court ruled in the town's favor, finding that the town did not intentionally exclude non-Christians. It also said that the content of the prayer was not an issue because there was no desire to proselytize or demean other faiths.

But a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that even with the high court's 1983 ruling, the practice of having one Christian prayer after another amounted to the town's endorsement of Christianity.

The case is Greece v. Galloway, 12-696.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

John Kerry Officially Apologizes to Israel's Netanyahu

Friday, 31 Oct 2014 21:48 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday to apologize for the crude commen . . .

Mexico Judge Orders Release of Marine

Friday, 31 Oct 2014 20:34 PM

A Mexican judge has ordered the immediate release of a jailed U.S. Marine veteran who spent eight months behind bars for . . .

Fox News Poll: 1 Point Separates Senate Candidates in 3 Key Races

Friday, 31 Oct 2014 19:59 PM

Senate races in Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina are separated by 1 percentage point each among candidates, results of a . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved