Greece v. Galloway Case

May 6, 2014

In the case of Greece v. Galloway the Supreme Court has ruled that prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity. The court said in 5-4 decision Monday that the content of the prayers is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority said the prayers were merely ceremonial. They were neither unduly sectarian nor likely to make members of other faiths feel unwelcome. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town's practices could not be reconciled "with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government." South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley joined 23 states last year in a brief filed with the court saying that the U.S. Constitution allows for prayer during governmental meetings and legislative sessions. The ruling was a victory for the town of Greece, New York. In 1983, the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska Legislature and said that prayer is part of the nation's fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment. Patrick Garry, law professor at the University of South Dakota School of Law, discussed the recent ruling of the Greece v. Galloway case.

Patrick Garry, Law Professor at USD