Divided Supreme Court upholds local council meeting prayers

05/06/2014 // West Palm Beach, Florida, US // JusticeNewsFlash // Justice News Flash // (press release)

Washington – The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday to uphold Christian prayers at the beginning of local government meetings in a case concerning the town of Greece, New York. As reported by the Associated Press (AP), the court decided that the prayers’ content was not substantial unless it proved to be disparaging to non Christians or said in an attempt to convert others religiously.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is quoted as writing for the court, “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.”

Significant weight in the court reaching its decision was reportedly given to a 1983 decision in which an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature was upheld by the high court.

Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote for the four dissenters, is quoted as writing, “I respectfully dissent from the court’s opinion because I think the Town of Greece’s prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality — the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian.”

This report is provided by Justice News Flash – Washington Legal News

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