Greece v. Galloway

By HSK, May 6, 2014

Does inviting guest clergy to give an invocation at the opening of a public meeting violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment? Not in the case of Greece v. Galloway in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 majority, held that the Town of Greece, New York did not violate the 1st Amendment by opening its town board meetings with a prayer delivered by a local member of the clergy. The town’s practice was to invite local clergy members who were willing and available to attend a meeting. Although the clergy members delivering the prayers were all of Christian faith, it was the town’s practice to not exclude any faith, or even atheists, from delivering the opening invocation. The town further exercised no control over the content of the invocations. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the Establishment Clause requires these opening invocations to be non-sectarian, however, the Court warned that a practice that denigrates non-believers or religious minorities, seeks converts, or which furthers some improper governmental purpose would likely not pass constitutional scrutiny.

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