Weatherford Democrat

Online Only

July 27, 2013

ONLINE ONLY: N.Y. town prayers at issue as Supreme Court takes up religion for 1st time in 30 years

(Continued)

"The town had an obligation to consider how its prayer practice would be perceived by those who attended town board meetings," Judge Guido Calabresi wrote for the court.

The town contends the "endorsement test" — a standard created by now-retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor — doesn't apply to legislative-prayer cases.

Such a test "requires courts to parse prayers' content and thus inevitably forces courts to play the role of theologian, making judgments about the prayers' validity based on the supposed religious effect they are likely to have on observers," the town argued in court papers.

Greece says the 1983 Supreme Court decision, Marsh v. Chambers, permits legislative prayers as long as the government doesn't discriminate in selecting the person or use the practice to proselytize or disparage a faith.

The town has the backing of Robert Palmer, a Presbyterian minister whose prayers before the Nebraska state legislature were at issue in the 1983 case. In court papers, he said his prayers were "more identifiably Christian" than those in Greece.

"It's clear that the Constitution allows the government to open its meetings by invoking divine guidance," said Harvey, the lawyer for the town. "And once you do that, you need to let people pray consistent with the dictates of their own conscience."

Text Only
Online Only
Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways