Main | Sunday, November 03, 2013

SCOTUS To Hear Public Prayer Case

In 2008, Americans United for Separation of Church and State first sued the town of Greece, New York on behalf of two residents who claimed that allowing public prayer at city meetings was a violation of the Establishment Clause. Last year the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the town. Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear an appeal brought by the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom.
Some legal experts say while the high court has allowed public prayers in general, it has not set boundaries on when they might become too sectarian in nature. "The case involves a test between two different kinds of legal rules," said Thomas Goldstein, publisher and a leading Washington attorney. "The Supreme Court has broadly approved legislative prayer without asking too many questions. But in other cases where the government is involved with religion, it has looked at lots of different circumstances. So we just don't know whether this court will be completely approving of legislative prayers in this instance." The justices are now being asked to offer more firm guidelines over when and if such public prayers are constitutionally acceptable.
More about the ADF:
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a "legal ministry" based in Scottsdale, Arizona, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Greece Town Board, saying the Supreme Court has upheld the practice of government bodies "to acknowledge America's religious heritage and invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work." "A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn't like," said Brett Harvey, an attorney for the group. "Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God's blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn't suddenly be deemed unconstitutional."
RELATED: The ADF is also behind many lawsuits that seek to thwart the civil rights of LGBT Americans

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