Town of Greece v. Galloway

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: May 20, 2013
  • Case #: 12-696
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 681 F.3d 20 (2d. Cir. 2012)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause.

Petitioner conducted a legislative prayer to open all Town Board meetings. The Town Board would invite a member of the community, based on a community guide published in the local paper, to conduct the prayer prior to each Town Board meeting. A majority of the prayer givers could be categorized as Christians. Additionally, Petitioner did not adopt a formal proceeding for selecting the prayer giver for each meeting. Respondent claims the opening prayers violate the Establishment Clause.

The lower court held that the legislative prayer was a violation of the Establishment Clause because when viewed through the totality of the circumstances by a reasonable objective observer, the consistent legislative prayer of one faith is an endorsement of that religion by the State. The court relied primarily on the prayer giver selection process, the singular religious content of the prayers and actions by the prayer givers and town officials. Petitioner appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the legislative prayer practice violates the Establishment Clause.

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