Tomorrow in the U.S. Supreme Court: Prayer and Local Government

November 5, 2013, by Deborah J. Fox,

In a case that local governments are watching closely because of the impact it could have on the practice of opening city council meetings with prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in Town of Greece v. Galloway. The matter involves the town of Greece, New York, where two citizens challenged the town council’s years-long practice of beginning its monthly meetings with prayers that were almost exclusively Christian. The practical effect has been to endorse Christianity as the town’s religion—a violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, the citizens argue. The town contends that its practice has been sound; its brief to the Supreme Court leans heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision 30 years ago in Marsh v. Chambers, which found that the state of Nebraska had not violated the Constitution by employing a Presbyterian minister for 16 years to lead the legislature in prayer. Meyers Nave presented on this issue at last month’s annual International Municipal Lawyers Association conference and will be monitoring tomorrow’s arguments and providing analysis when the Court hands down its decision (due by June 2014). On Friday, a complete audio recording of tomorrow’s arguments will be available here.

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