Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings - CourtSide
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Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings

The Supreme Court has upheld the long-standing tradition of offering prayers at the start of government meetings, even if those prayers are heavily Christian.

The Court ruled that the town of Greece, New York was free to open its monthly public meetings with a prayer. Two residents, one Jewish and one atheist, claimed that because the prayers were almost always Christian, the practice amounted to government endorsement of a single faith.

The 5-4 ruling (attached below) was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the court's conservatives agreeing and its liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting.

Kennedy wrote that "ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define."

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town's practices could not be reconciled "with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government."

The Supreme Court last considered the issue of government prayer in 1983, ruling that the Nebraska legislature did not violate the Constitution by opening its sessions with a prayer from a Presbyterian minister.