The Supreme Court announced Monday its decision on the case of Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway,et. al. (2014), regarding the performance of religious prayer at public meetings.
The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision 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." However, the dissenting Justices 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.
On February 26, CCS contributor Jonathan Turley testified before the House Judiciary Committee concerning the "President's constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws."
Professor Turley stated, "We are now at a constitutional tipping point for our system. If balance is to be reestablished, it must begin before this President leaves office and that will likely require every possible means to reassert legislative authority. No one in our system can "go it alone" - not Congress, not the courts, and not the President. We are stuck with each other in a system of shared powers - for better or worse. We may deadlock or even despise each other. The Framers clearly foresaw such periods. They lived in such a period. Whatever problems we are facing today in politics, they are problems of our own making. They should not be used to take away from future generations a system that has safeguarded our freedoms for over 250 years."
He continued, "We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation."
For the complete text of Professor Turley's testimony, click here.