Supreme Court: Greece Prayers Don't Violate Constitution

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of prayer at town meetings. The case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, was brought by two women who objected to the Christian-only prayers said before town board meetings.

"The town of Greece does not violate the First Amend­ment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents,"  Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. "So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing...That nearly all of the congregations in town turned out to be Christian does not reflect an aversion or bias on the part of town."

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent, saying, "The town of Greece failed to make reasonable efforts to include prayer givers of minority faiths...Greece’s Board did nothing to recognize religious diversity...prayer repeatedly invok­ing a single religion’s beliefs in these settings—crossed a constitutional line."

A federal court in Rochester permitted Greece to continue with prayers before meetings. That local ruling was overturned in a federal appeals court. The Supreme Court overturned the federal appeals court ruling.

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