Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, May 05, 2014

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of government entities across the United States to allow sectarian prayers prior to public meetings. The court said in a 5-4 vote that the town of Greece, New York, did not violate the Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion by allowing prayers before its monthly meetings, even though prayer-givers chosen by the town were overwhelmingly Christian.

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Can't wait until the first open prayer at a town council meeting is from the koran.

#1 | Posted by schmanch at 2014-05-05 10:49 AM | Reply | Flag:

You think any muslimaphobe will allow that on the docket?

#2 | Posted by 726 at 2014-05-05 12:23 PM | Reply | Flag:

I have seen town meetings opened by prayers for various faiths and I doubt Muslim would be any different. They usually try to keep the prayer general and inclusive.
How many times does the SC have to decide the same point the same way before the anti-religious get it?

#3 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-05 12:44 PM | Reply | Flag:

That depends, Diablo. How many times will Christians try to shoehorn an endorsement of their religion into sectarian government events?

#4 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-05 12:57 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 7

How is any prayer inclusive of non-believers?

#5 | Posted by schmanch at 2014-05-05 01:24 PM | Reply | Flag:

Well if they are elected and decide they want to open their meetings with a prayer, then offended voters can petition them to stop or vote/run against them, Rcade. It's a far more democratic approach than running to the courts and costing people money just to make a sniping point.

#6 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-05 02:53 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

How is any prayer inclusive of non-believers?

#5 | Posted by schmanch

Actually I think it can be.

If there really is no God in effect they are only talking to themselves or everyone in attendance. Prayer, when used effectively, connects you to those around you (or just yourself) and allows everyone (or just you) to get better in touch with our "universal consciousness" (call it what you will).

Being respectful of others belief system is something Christians (and Muslims) have a hard time doing but, yes, it can be done.

#7 | Posted by donnerboy at 2014-05-05 03:27 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

Diablo, why does anyone need a prayer before governmental meetings other than just to rub the noses of non-believers in the dirt? Can't wait until a Satanist wants his prayer read before a meeting.

#8 | Posted by danni at 2014-05-05 03:27 PM | Reply | Flag:

"I have seen town meetings opened by prayers for various faiths and I doubt Muslim would be any different. They usually try to keep the prayer general and inclusive."

I hope this gets tested in that suburb of Detroit that's predominately Muslim.

#9 | Posted by eberly at 2014-05-05 03:28 PM | Reply | Flag:

I'm in favor of allowing ecumenical prayers along the lines of those employed by Military Chaplains.

#10 | Posted by Tor at 2014-05-05 03:47 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Diablo, why does anyone need a prayer before governmental meetings other than just to rub the noses of non-believers in the dirt?"

It is not needed, which does not mean it should be across the board prohibited. If Berkeley does not open council meeting with a prayer, does that constitute 'rubbing the noses' of believers in the dirt?

#11 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-05 04:20 PM | Reply | Flag:

If Berkeley does not open council meeting with a prayer, does that constitute 'rubbing the noses' of believers in the dirt?
#11 | POSTED BY DIABLO

No, it doesn't. Hey, that was easy. You got any other softballs?

#12 | Posted by CALIbertarian at 2014-05-05 04:21 PM | Reply | Flag:

That depends, Diablo. How many times will Christians try to shoehorn an endorsement of their religion into sectarian government events?

#4 | Posted by rcade

It's smalltown America Rcade, leave them their traditions.

#13 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-05 04:23 PM | Reply | Flag:

dear unseen lord art n. heaven-- please let this town hall meeting end early-- i want to catch at least the last 3 innings of the orioles game.

#14 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2014-05-05 04:37 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's swing vote, wrote the majority opinion. He said the town's prayers were consistent with the high court's 1983 precedent in a case called Marsh v. Chambers. That case made it clear that the long-standing practice of having prayers before state legislative sessions was lawful, based in large part on its historic nature."

Not a constitutional lawyer, but here is the problem with the "Historic" argument to me - it does not make it legal or right. Basing something on the mere fact it has been done for a long period of time and has a history does not make it law. There are plenty of cases where that argument could have been used in favor of a position and rulings went against that position. In this case it is discriminatory against a minority. If they want to have a prayer before a meeting I am fine with that as long as it isn't official or done in such a way as to single out people who don't believe as they do.

#15 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2014-05-05 04:59 PM | Reply | Flag:

It's smalltown America Rcade, leave them their traditions.

#13 | Posted by americanPLY

Like discrimination, lynchings, etc.?

#16 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2014-05-05 05:02 PM | Reply | Flag:

In the minds of the sick, anti-religious mob saying a prayer in public is now akin to lynchings?

#17 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-05 05:24 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 4

HARHAR

There goes the "persicuted Christian" meme.

Nothing says "Christian persecution" quite like a majority of Christians forcing its beliefs on others in thier community.

#18 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2014-05-05 05:38 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

How many times will Christians try to shoehorn an endorsement of their religion into sectarian government events?

When govt is made up of the people one day instead of politicians, maybe the people can decide if they want to pray before doing govt work.

I wonder when liberals will understand what endorsement of religion means? If the govt comes out and says "Islam is the official religion", THAT is against the constitution. Everything else is fair game. That's why things should be as local as possible.

Local people should be able to pray in whatever religion the local populace deems fit, even if it's Islam.

#19 | Posted by boaz at 2014-05-05 05:44 PM | Reply | Flag:

MOSES I hate to say it but Pete did link those things with prayer.

#20 | Posted by Tor at 2014-05-05 05:44 PM | Reply | Flag:

YOU CANNOT PETITION THE LORD WITH PRAYER!

Jim Morrison

#21 | Posted by goatman at 2014-05-05 05:47 PM | Reply | Flag:

#19 - Exactly.

#22 | Posted by danv at 2014-05-05 05:55 PM | Reply | Flag:

Just to add, if I can't stop a gay parade (not that I would necessarily want to), which is a public event. Why should others be allowed to stop Christian prayer, another public event?

Either everything is tolerated or nothing is, hence freedom of speech

#23 | Posted by danv at 2014-05-05 05:58 PM | Reply | Flag:

I am not a big fan of public prayer but if this is something important to someone else I find it hard to understand why it is such a big deal not just stand quietly and let them have their prayer. Allowing someone else to pray before a meeting is not going to make all your beliefs wrong just like two men getting married is not going to make all marriages that came before worthless.

#24 | Posted by THomewood at 2014-05-05 06:16 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 2

#24 Then what is wrong with just giving everybody a little time before the meeting to say a private prayer or whatever they to do. Why does it have to be a sanctioned part of the meeting that is announced for everyone to listen to.

#25 | Posted by schmanch at 2014-05-05 06:38 PM | Reply | Flag:

Well if they are elected and decide they want to open their meetings with a prayer, then offended voters can petition them to stop or vote/run against them, Rcade. It's a far more democratic approach than running to the courts and costing people money just to make a sniping point.

#6 | POSTED BY DIABLO

What a good point! Screw minority rights! Majority rule!

Wait, what about all those Obamacare court cases and House votes?

#26 | Posted by Sycophant at 2014-05-05 06:39 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Just to add, if I can't stop a gay parade (not that I would necessarily want to), which is a public event. Why should others be allowed to stop Christian prayer, another public event?

Either everything is tolerated or nothing is, hence freedom of speech"

#23 | POSTED BY DANV

I guess all town meetings should start with gay parades then.

#27 | Posted by Derek_Wildstar at 2014-05-05 06:39 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

So this is the second time this session the SCOTUS noted "tradition" and "historical nature" in their rulings.

Why does this standard not apply to same sex marriage?

#28 | Posted by Prolix247 at 2014-05-05 06:51 PM | Reply | Flag:

Don't get me wrong. I could care less. However, because I could care less, it matters little what flavor of religion is recited ---- I doubt that same sentiment will exist for the Christian mob once a Buddhist or Shinto is in the mix. It's only a matter of time before the celebration turns back into endless "persicution".

#29 | Posted by ChiefTutMoses at 2014-05-05 06:55 PM | Reply | Flag:

"There goes the "persicuted Christian" meme."

Pssst, Chief: we won the case.
Deal with your feelings of the persecuted minority having belief 'forced' on them like a good little suffering lefty.

#30 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-05 06:57 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 2

"I guess all town meetings should start with gay parades then." I think they do on Fire Island and Ptown ;)

#32 | Posted by THomewood at 2014-05-05 07:06 PM | Reply | Flag:

The usual 4 suspects who voted against it... hahahaha....

#33 | Posted by takitez at 2014-05-05 07:06 PM | Reply | Flag:

This was a bad decision. I have absolutely no legal basis for saying that, but common sense and the law are not one in the same.

#34 | Posted by 101Chairborne at 2014-05-05 07:07 PM | Reply | Flag:

It's smalltown America Rcade, leave them their traditions.

#13 | Posted by americanPLY

Just because a small town has been doing something by "tradition" it does not automatically follow that it is constitutional.

#35 | Posted by donnerboy at 2014-05-05 07:09 PM | Reply | Flag:

I think every meeting, whether a business meeting or a town meeting should begin with all participants being announced over a loud speaker to the music of their choice as they run (or walk, or strut, or dance, etc) while encouraging the crowd to cheer as they "raise the roof", pumping up the other attendees. I mean, why not? We are now the "look at me/give me" society that has no shame and we all are special.

I can't wait until some other religion gets a crack at preaching to a captive audience.

#36 | Posted by 101Chairborne at 2014-05-05 07:12 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

#16 | Posted by GalaxiePete

Stick to the topic at hand.

...and Donnerboy, it's speech. That in itself makes it constitutional.

Its not an ordinance, its not a recitation of a religious creed, and it doesnt set the agenda for the meeting. It's completely harmless.

#37 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-05 07:42 PM | Reply | Flag:

separation of church and state is in the constitution. It is unconstitutional for government to sponsor a religion. That's a fact.

Here is the definition of the word prayer.

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication.

Here is the definition of the word religion.

Religion is a set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality, and the role of humans in this relationship.

With those two definitions I can easily declare thru logic and reason that Prayer is a religious act.

Everyone should be outraged that the supreme court completely ripped the constitution to shreds. This here is a slippery slope to a theocracy and oppressive rule in the United States of America.

#38 | Posted by pragmatous at 2014-05-05 10:09 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 2

Slavery is an american tradition. Thanks for letting everyone know that you support slavery by being a traditionalist.

"It's smalltown America Rcade, leave them their traditions."

#39 | Posted by pragmatous at 2014-05-05 10:14 PM | Reply | Flag:

"...and Donnerboy, it's speech. That in itself makes it constitutional. "

Wrong. Speech is not unlimited freedom. For example you cannot yell fire in a theater because it can cause harm and panic to others. Similarly the government cannot sponsor a religion. That includes speech.

#40 | Posted by pragmatous at 2014-05-05 10:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

If no one in the meeting objects, what's the problem? It's not like a "Help us make the right decisions for our village, god" prayer is going to force Christianity on the country.

Even as an atheist and defender of church and state separations, I see no more of a problem here than the word "God" on my money unless someone involved (read, not an ACLU lawyer) objects. It's these silly Excitare fluctus in simpulo situations that give us atheists a bad name

#41 | Posted by goatman at 2014-05-05 10:44 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

"If no one in the meeting objects, what's the problem?"

Many wouldn't feel comfortable objecting, and now no one can.

It's an infringement upon others. "We pray to my god to decide what's best for you". Other beliefs will get nothing more than token gestures.

This would have been ruled unconstitutional if it had to do with Islamic prayer or Bhuddhist chants.

It has no place in government administration. Why not a DMV worker saying a prayer before renewing your license? Should Congress, the Senate and the President be able to say a prayer before they take care of business?

May as well be singing "Ring Around the Rosie" before town meetings. Most towns and countries in the world would roll their eyes over saying prayer when taking care of governmental duties.

#42 | Posted by Derek_Wildstar at 2014-05-05 11:52 PM | Reply | Flag:

The Court shredded the constitution? Perhaps they were confused by the actions of the Founders.

On September 25, 1789, three days after Congress authorized the appointment of paid chaplains, final agreement was reached on the language of the Bill of Rights, S. Jour., supra, at 88; H. R. Jour., supra, at 121.9 Clearly the men who wrote the First Amendment Religion Clauses did not view paid legislative chaplains and opening prayers as a violation of that Amendment, for the practice of opening sessions with prayer has continued without interruption ever since that early session of Congress.10 It has also been followed consistently in most of the states,11 including Nebraska, where the institution of opening legislative sessions with prayer was adopted even before the State attained statehood. Neb. Jour. of Council, General Assembly, 1st Sess., 16 (Jan. 22, 1855). Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 103 S. Ct. 3330, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1019 (1983)(pagination notes omitted).
The point being prayer at legislative sessions was established in the beginning by the very persons that wrote the Bill of Rights. In this case, the Court expanded the legislative rule to a city counsel acting as a legislative body. Incidentally, all nine justices agreed with that principle. The differing opinions dealt with how to apply the principle.

#43 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-05 11:59 PM | Reply | Flag:

43 for 38.

#44 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 12:01 AM | Reply | Flag:

Other beliefs will get nothing more than token gestures.

How do you know? I didn't read that in the story.

This would have been ruled unconstitutional if it had to do with Islamic prayer or Bhuddhist chants.

How do you know? I didn't read that in the story, either, or in the decision.

Why not a DMV worker saying a prayer before renewing your license?

Because I would object. And as I said, if someone objects, it shouldn't happen.

Should Congress, the Senate and the President be able to say a prayer before they take care of business?

Again, if none of their constituents object, but we know in this country of 325 million, there will be a lot of objections, so no, they shouldn't.

May as well be singing "Ring Around the Rosie" before town meetings.

If none of the participants obect, I don't care. Why would you?

#45 | Posted by goatman at 2014-05-06 12:03 AM | Reply | Flag:

"Everyone should be outraged that the supreme court completely ripped the constitution to shreds."

You lost. Deal with it.

#46 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-06 12:25 AM | Reply | Flag:

So this is the second time this session the SCOTUS noted "tradition" and "historical nature" in their rulings.
Why does this standard not apply to same sex marriage?
#28 | Posted by Prolix247

A couple of reasons. The First Amendment has a long jurisprudential record. When examining how that clause has been applied to specific conduct, what and how it was done at the beginning is very instructive of what the clause means. Legislative prayer has been around since the beginning.

Marriage, first, does not have a long jurisprudential record of application of specific amendments to same sex marriage. Also, the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment are by nature expandable because it depends. So too is the right of privacy expandable. Hopefully, we are witnessing such an expansion into digital/cyber privacy.

#47 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 12:48 AM | Reply | Flag:

#39 | Posted by pragmatous
Right, because one is equitable to the other. You lose.

It's prayer. Its a spoken word asking for guidance before they conduct their municipal business. If you want to be outraged over a SCOTUS ruling, take on the KELO case. It overturned your right to own property without the government seizing it and giving it to someone else, not a small spoken act prior to a town council meeting.

#48 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 08:12 AM | Reply | Flag:

Now, as far as definitions go, here is one perfectly clear set of definitions.

Amendment One:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Since defining things by how they are written is so out of fashion, we'll just ignore the fact that it says "Congress" in there, and go with the conventional interpretation. It says that no law can establish a religion, and it says that you cannot prohibit the free exercise thereof. SO, looks like you can engage in a religious act after all, since performing that act is in fact a practice of religion.

#49 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 08:18 AM | Reply | Flag:

""or abridging the freedom of speech,""

This one is pretty cut and dry. Telling someone they cant say something is... what? Abridging their freedom of speech, right?

#50 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 08:19 AM | Reply | Flag:

It's a far more democratic approach than running to the courts and costing people money just to make a sniping point.

The point of keeping secular government secular is often worth a lawsuit. I applaud the Jewish and atheist residents who filed this suit and pursued it all the way to the Supreme Court. Their rights were being trampled when the town set up a prayer program at their meetings that never included a non-Christian or non-believer until after it became an issue.

This kind of stuff reminds me of a Sam the Eagle line in the Muppet 3D movie at Disney World. He's asked what his performance is going to be at the show, and he says, "It's a salute to all nations -- but mostly America."

These prayers are a salute to all beliefs -- but mostly Christianity. It gets tiresome. Town meetings shouldn't begin with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge endorsement of Christianity.

#51 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 09:35 AM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 3

Thank God!

#52 | Posted by MURPHY at 2014-05-06 09:49 AM | Reply | Flag:

Quite the contrary Rcade. The people who were being prohibited from exercising their rights were the ones being told they could not engage in their constitutionally sanctioned right to speak their conscience by praying.

The people who filed this suit should be derided for filing frivolous lawsuits and clogging our legal system with unnecessary suits in their attempt to deny others their right to speak as they wish.

Its stuff like this that provides a perfect example of how we simply do not live in a free country anymore. Everything someone does, no matter how menial is subject to legal rebiew and prohibition.

#53 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 11:02 AM | Reply | Flag:

#53 - You are completely full of it. Nobody told anyone they could not pray. Anybody who wants, can exercise their right to pray anytime they want during these town counsel meetings. What they want is a town sanctioned prayer, and that is not OK.

#54 | Posted by schmanch at 2014-05-06 11:24 AM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

The people who were being prohibited from exercising their rights were the ones being told they could not engage in their constitutionally sanctioned right to speak their conscience by praying.

The people in question are government officials who sanctioned the prayer time, not the people who delivered the prayers. No government official has a constitutional right to endorse a religion in carrying out his or her official duties.

In fact, the First Amendment directly prohibits such endorsement: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."

#55 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 11:28 AM | Reply | Flag:

Nor restricting the free exercise of, Racade. Remember that part?

#56 | Posted by Diablo at 2014-05-06 12:56 PM | Reply | Flag:

No government official has a constitutional right to endorse a religion in carrying out his or her official duties.

When that happens let us know because that is not what happened in this case.

#57 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 01:02 PM | Reply | Flag:

Let's do a thought experiment here. I think we can all agree than no one can stop someone from praying. I mean, you just say a little ditty to your sky fairy of choice in your head, right? How can that be stopped?

Let's say one of the council members did this. Is this violating the church/state clause of the Constitution? What if that person audibly mumbled that prayer instead of thinking it? Has he crossed that line yet? I don't think so. Well, what if another person mumbles that prayer with him. Still OK or no? Are two people of a 12 member council mumbling a personal prayer advocating a theocracy? I think not.

But apparently some thing that if all 12 council members mumble their own personal prayer, the line has been crossed. At what point was it crossed? One person? That's silly. Two people? Still silly. So when?

#58 | Posted by goatman at 2014-05-06 01:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

#58 - I understand what you are saying, and to be honest, I have been playing devils advocate throughout most of this discussion. Personally I couldn't care less if they pray before the meeting. But the I have to say I get annoyed that the hypocritical religious people who complain the loudest about us falling into shira law every time some muslim won't sell pork or booze, are the first ones to say that praying before a town council is their constitutional right. (whew!!! run on sentence)

To answer your question, the line is crossed when the prayer is a scheduled and sanctioned event on the nights agenda Goatman.

#59 | Posted by schmanch at 2014-05-06 01:37 PM | Reply | Flag:

When that happens let us know because that is not what happened in this case.

Four of the nine Supreme Court justices disagree with you.

But apparently some thing that if all 12 council members mumble their own personal prayer, the line has been crossed.

This imaginary scenario has nothing to do with the Supreme Court case. Read the link.

#60 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 03:03 PM | Reply | Flag:

Bypassing the very straightforward statement "Congress shall make no law" lets lets look at "establish". They arent establishing an official religion. Where are you getting "endorsement"?

#61 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 03:13 PM | Reply | Flag:

I think every meeting, whether a business meeting or a town meeting should begin with all participants being announced over a loud speaker to the music of their choice as they run (or walk, or strut, or dance, etc) while encouraging the crowd to cheer as they "raise the roof", pumping up the other attendees. I mean, why not? We are now the "look at me/give me" society that has no shame and we all are special.
I can't wait until some other religion gets a crack at preaching to a captive audience.

#36 | POSTED BY 101CHAIRBORNE

The Detroit Tigers do this every time one of their players walks up to the plate to bat.

Last year Prince Fielder's song was Soul Glo. Classic!

In fact, the First Amendment directly prohibits such endorsement: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."

How does saying a prayer constitute congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion?

#55 | POSTED BY RCADE

#62 | Posted by JeffJ at 2014-05-06 03:35 PM | Reply | Flag:

Four of the nine Supreme Court justices disagree with you.

Try reading the opinions. I'm not the only one that disagrees that the dissent doesn't disagree with the principle of legislative prayer extended by the majority.

Kagan took pains to point out that the town council meetings are not required to be "religion- or prayer-free." www.scotusblog.com

#63 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 03:47 PM | Reply | Flag:

Here's someone else that says the dissent doesn't disagree.

But now all nine Justices agree with the Marsh result; even the dissent says, "pluralism and inclusion in a town hall can satisfy the constitutional requirement of neutrality; such a forum need not become a religion-free zone." Indeed, the dissenters say they agree with Marsh, and don't just follow it as a precedent: www.washingtonpost.com

Again, read the opinions. They differ only in degrees.

#64 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 03:57 PM | Reply | Flag:

How does saying a prayer constitute congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion?

The First Amendment doesn't just apply to Congress. It applies to any government all the way down to cities. This town council preceded its meetings with prayers and "all members of the public who gave a prayer were Christians until two residents filed suit in 2008."

Kagan writes in her dissent, "the Town never sought (except briefly when this suit was filed) to involve, accommodate, or in any way reach out to adherents of non-Christian religions. So month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits. In my view, that practice does not square with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government. ...

"When the citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as members of one faith or another. And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines. I believe ... that the Town of Greece betrayed that promise."

#65 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 04:03 PM | Reply | Flag:

Again, read the opinions. They differ only in degrees.

I read Kagan. She accepts that religious expression can be a part of a government function like a town meeting. But because only one religion was invited to give the prayer for 10 years -- aside from a few exceptions when the suit was filed -- she believes the town's actions violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

That's what I was referring to earlier when I said that "No government official has a constitutional right to endorse a religion in carrying out his or her official duties." Every case of this nature is about the Establishment Clause.

#66 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 04:07 PM | Reply | Flag:

"No government official has a constitutional right to endorse a religion in carrying out his or her official duties."

I don't see how that equates to congress making law respecting an establishment of religion.

#67 | Posted by JeffJ at 2014-05-06 04:13 PM | Reply | Flag:

Kagan: "the Town never sought (except briefly when this suit was filed) to involve, accommodate, or in any way reach out to adherents of non-Christian religions. So month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits. In my view, that practice does not square with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government.

That makes no sense. The 1st Amendment has nothing to do with 'a citizen's equal ownership of her government.'b

The 1st Amendment poses a tangible barrier TO government. Had she cited the 14th Amendment and equal protection, I might be able to at least understand where she is coming from. But her point reproduced above is nonsensical IMO.

#68 | Posted by JeffJ at 2014-05-06 04:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

I don't see how that equates to congress making law respecting an establishment of religion.

This comment and the next one show a fundamental lack of understanding of the Establishment Clause. Read the opinion and other cases like it along with the Wikipedia entry:

en.wikipedia.org

#69 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 04:24 PM | Reply | Flag:

The real question is were decision made benefitting the faith and not benefitting those non-believers.

#70 | Posted by moneywar at 2014-05-06 04:28 PM | Reply | Flag:

[S]he believes the town's actions violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

A fair reading of the majority opinion reveals there is a line beyond which they too would find a legislative prayer violates the Establishment Clause. They just didn't think so here. Once again, the Court was unanimous that some legislative prayer is constitutional. They differ only in degree.

#71 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 04:29 PM | Reply | Flag:

#69 - I'll check it out later. Gotta mow my lawn for the first time this year!

I appreciate the fact that you are making constitutional arguments on this issue. Far too many of your brethren take an extremely shallow view on Constitutional issues and view everything through the prism of desired outcome.

#72 | Posted by JeffJ at 2014-05-06 04:31 PM | Reply | Flag:

That makes no sense.
#68 | Posted by JeffJ

Jeff, that was a bit of rhetorical flourish by Kagan. The type for which Scalia is vilified. Try Alito's concurrence which is a direct response to Kagan's rhetoric.

#73 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-06 04:34 PM | Reply | Flag:

#53 - You are completely full of it. Nobody told anyone they could not pray. Anybody who wants, can exercise their right to pray anytime they want during these town counsel meetings. What they want is a town sanctioned prayer, and that is not OK.

#54 | Posted by schmanch

No, that is EXACTLY what they were trying to do. The plaintiffs sued to stop prayer at a time they felt was inappropriate. The suit sought to end the practice of saying a prayer at a designated time prior to the commencement of the council meeting. So, in effect, they were NOT allowing them to pray "anytime they want". You're statement is self-defeating.

#74 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 04:37 PM | Reply | Flag:

#69 | Posted by rcade

It actually demonstrates a very acute sense of reading comprehension. The amendment was written to protect speech and the free practice of religion. That is why it says precisely what it does. You are advocating censorship no matter how you misinterpret the 1st amendment.

Also, there is no requirement to reach out to other faiths. That is another concept conjured up to skew this council's allowance of prayer as exclusive, bigoted, and thus unconstitutional.

#75 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 04:45 PM | Reply | Flag:

You are advocating censorship no matter how you misinterpret the 1st amendment. Also, there is no requirement to reach out to other faiths.

You're just full of wrong information today. There have been plenty of cases that hinged on whether a governmental entity had reached out to non-Christian religions as it tried to shoehorn Christianity into secular government.

"Censorship" has nothing to do with this. The people who prayed at the meeting were invited to be there by the town, and it's the invitation that is at issue. No one has censored their ability to pray.

#76 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 04:52 PM | Reply | Flag:

No that is exactly what this is about. Determining what and in what manner prayer and other invocations may be offered. Muddying the waters to deter the free expression of religion during this event or that event. A literal 1st amendment zone for the council chambers.

Censorship has everything to do with it. Making speech subject to approval by the authorities.

#77 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 05:05 PM | Reply | Flag:

Elected bodies are composed of citizens duly chosen by the electorate to represent them. That body can make its own rules and express itself in just the same the way that the citizens who elected it can. They do it all the time.

If only Baptists or Sikhs or Catholics were, according to the law, given priviliges or allowed to speak before the town council on business you'd have a point, but that isnt the case. There isnt the time to have a representative of every denomination come and say a prayer. And they shouldnt have to, and these councils should not have to be subjected to lawsuits from every spinster with a 'tude who wants to stir up a bunch of crap over a simple invocation of God prior to town business.

#78 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-06 05:12 PM | Reply | Flag:

Y'all need to read Fahrenheit 451 again.

#79 | Posted by sentinel at 2014-05-06 07:39 PM | Reply | Flag:

Determining what and in what manner prayer and other invocations may be offered.

You're still not getting it. The town is already doing that. It chooses the person who will give the prayer to start each meeting.

The issue is whether it's OK for the person to always be a Christian, which was the way the town was doing it. The Supreme Court ruled it was.

#80 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-06 08:37 PM | Reply | Flag:

"The issue is whether it's OK for the person to always be a Christian, which was the way the town was doing it."

Were there ever any requests or offers by citizens or council members to have a prayer given by a non-Christian, which were denied or turned down?

#81 | Posted by sentinel at 2014-05-07 01:07 AM | Reply | Flag:

I think all politicians should be required to pray before meetings. But it has to be the rattlesnake handling type of praying....

#82 | Posted by Sully at 2014-05-07 09:42 AM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

Were there ever any requests or offers by citizens or council members to have a prayer given by a non-Christian, which were denied or turned down?

Non-Christian religious leaders were never told about the program. The town went down the list of Christian churches in a town directory, inviting each one in order.

#83 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-07 10:05 AM | Reply | Flag:

Here is exactly why this ruling is both wrong and offensive.

www.youtube.com

Murikans can't stand for any of those other people to have their faith represented.

#84 | Posted by Reagan58 at 2014-05-07 10:21 AM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

I think all politicians should be required to pray before meetings. But it has to be the rattlesnake handling type of praying....

#82 | POSTED BY SULLY

Hell even that is fake as they milk the venom from them prior to handling.

#85 | Posted by Lohocla at 2014-05-07 11:51 AM | Reply | Flag:

The town went down the list of Christian churches in a town directory, inviting each one in order.

I thought you read the opinions. If so, a reading comprehension class is in order. That is not how the selection process worked whether described by Kennedy or Kagan. Alito and Breyer provide the details.

#86 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-07 12:24 PM | Reply | Flag:

My summary is based on how Kagan described it.

www2.bloomberglaw.com

"Beginning in 1999, when it instituted its practice of opening its monthly board meetings with prayer, Greece selected prayer givers as follows: Initially, the town's employees invited clergy from each religious organization listed in a 'Community Guide' published by the Greece Chamber of Commerce. After that, the town kept a list of clergy who had accepted invitations and reinvited those clergy to give prayers at future meetings. ...

"[T]he fact that nearly all of the prayers given reflected a single denomination takes on significance. That significance would have been the same had all the prayers been Jewish, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or of any other denomination. The significance is that, in a context where religious minorities exist and where more could easily have been done to include their participation, the town chose to do nothing. It could, for example, have posted its policy of permitting anyone to give an invocation on its website, greeceny.gov, which provides dates and times of upcoming town board meetings along with minutes of prior meetings. It could have announced inclusive policies at the beginning of its board meetings, just before introducing the month's prayer giver. It could have provided information to those houses of worship of all faiths that lie just outside its borders and include citizens of Greece among their members. Given that the town could easily have made these or similar efforts but chose not to, the fact that all of the prayers (aside from the 2008 outliers) were given by adherents of a single religion reflects a lack of effort to include others."

The only thing you could quibble with was that I said it was "in order," when elsewhere it is said the clergy were called at random. All of the houses of prayer in the guide were Christian.

#87 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-07 02:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

Where did this requirement that they request someone from every group come from Rcade?

#88 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-07 02:53 PM | Reply | Flag:

Where did this requirement that they request someone from every group come from Rcade?

Read the case. Kagan explains quite eloquently why it matters for the town to have reached out to non-Christian groups.

#89 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-07 03:03 PM | Reply | Flag:

All of the houses of prayer in the guide were Christian.

You, as does Kagan, omit why those listed in the guide were Christian thus imply it was the result of a conscious decision. It was not, the town's chamber of commerce guide only listed Christian organizations because, with one exception, there were no others within the town boundaries. That's why I referred you to Alito and Breyer. Both the majority opinion and main dissent gloss over many of the facts. [...]

#90 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-07 03:09 PM | Reply | Flag:

I did read the case, and the dictation of the majority is lucid. There was no coercion. There was no establishment of religion, and there was no effort to exclude other denominations.

I'll make it clear from my perspective. This has nothing to do with inclusion. It has everything to do with using the 1st amendment to do exactly what it was written to protect from, censorship.

#91 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-07 03:15 PM | Reply | Flag:

They dont have to bring people in from outside the town. This council represents the town and the people in it. Thats a tailor-made requirement to infringe upon their right to speak and practice religion as they see fit.

#92 | Posted by americanPLY at 2014-05-07 03:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

Where did this requirement that they request someone from every group come from Rcade?

It's an accommodation in religion clause jurisprudence. The more diverse and broad a given contested religious practice then it is less likely to be unconstitutional.

#93 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-07 03:35 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

They dont have to bring people in from outside the town. This council represents the town and the people in it. Thats a tailor-made requirement to infringe upon their right to speak and practice religion as they see fit.

If you read the majority opinion then you are aware of your fallacy. Government officials performing their roles are not free to speak and practice religion as they see fit. Diversity and broad inclusion of others, among other factors, is what saves legislative prayer from being unconstitutional.

#94 | Posted by et_al at 2014-05-07 03:43 PM | Reply | Flag:

You, as does Kagan, omit why those listed in the guide were Christian thus imply it was the result of a conscious decision.

No, she doesn't. Kagan notes that there were no synagogues within the town's borders and writes, "respondents do not claim that the list was attributable to religious bias or favoritism, and the Court of Appeals acknowledged that the town had 'no religious animus.'"

#95 | Posted by rcade at 2014-05-07 04:20 PM | Reply | Flag:

The question was whether or not the town's actions constituted an "establishment" of religion. I'd agree it comes close to that line, but not sufficient evidence was shown it crossed it in this case.

#96 | Posted by sentinel at 2014-05-07 09:09 PM | Reply | Flag:

That said, out of all the different types of religious gatherings I've been to, the ones with the most whiny victim mentalities were Christian.

#97 | Posted by sentinel at 2014-05-07 09:13 PM | Reply | Flag:

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