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On Wednesday, April 16, 2014, the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University (CCS) conferred its highest award of Honorary Fellow upon Dallin H. Oaks.

Currently, Elder Oaks is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In connection with this award, Elder Oaks delivered the keynote address at the CCS Constitutional Symposium on Religious Freedom.

Dallin H. Oaks is a former Justice of the Utah Supreme Court, law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, and lawyer at the firm Kirtland and Ellis in Chicago. A graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Chicago Law School, Oaks has been an officer or member of the board of many business, educational, and charitable organizations. He is also the author or co-author of many books and articles on religious and legal subjects. In May 2013, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty awarded him the Canterbury Medal for "courage in the defense of religious liberty."

Dallin H. Oaks joins Pulitzer Prize winning author, David McCullough, as an Honorary Fellow of the Center for Constitutional Studies.

This Symposium's other distinguished Symposium participants included: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Judge Thomas Griffith (U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit), Dr. Jan Shipps (IUPUI), and Dr. Sally Gordon (Penn Law). Susan Griffith, wife of Judge Thomas Griffith, delivered the CCS student lecture.

Constitutional News

May 5, 2014

Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday its decision in the case of Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, et. al. (2014), regarding the performance of religious prayer at public meetings.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that "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 non-adherents." The Court also unanimously found that the public forum "need not be a religion free zone." The dissenting Justices, however, largely disagreed with the content and exclusionary nature of the prayers.

In the majority decision, Justice Kennedy wrote, "The First Amendment is not a majority rule, and government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech. Once it invites prayer into the public sphere, government must permit a prayer giver to address his or her own God or gods as conscience dictates, unfet­tered by what an administrator or judge considers to be nonsectarian."

Justice Kennedy also stated, "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."

For a full account of the Court's written decision, click here.