Today, the US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision affirming the right of public bodies to employ certain sectarian prayers during public meetings and events. The decision, in the case Town of Greece v. Galloway, comes from a town in New York State. Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion, with Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor dissenting. A quote from Justice Kennedy from page 3 of the slip opinion:
Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government to alter or define and that willing participation in civic affairs can be consistent with a brief acknowledgment of their belief in a higher power, always with due respect for those who adhere to other beliefs. The prayer in this case has a permissible ceremonial purpose. It is not an unconstitutional establishment of religion.
In Maryland, a related matter had been underway in Carroll County, as the County Commissioners had recently agreed to modify their opening procedures following a court stay. See previous Conduit Street coverage.
(Note: following the federal ruling, Carroll County has rescinded its decision to modify its prayers – see followup Conduit Street coverage)
For more information on and analysis of the Supreme Court Case, visit the SCOTUSblog website.