U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Invocations at Town Council Meetings
May 5, 2014
A town council's tradition of opening public meetings with an invocation does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld a New York town's practice of inviting local clergy members to begin town council meetings with prayers against a challenge brought by some members of the public who argued that being subjected to prayers at the start of meetings conflicted with their own religious or philosophical views.
In holding that ceremonial prayers at the start of meetings is not an unconstitutional governmental "establishment" of religion â€“ even where most of those offering prayers had invoked a Christian theme â€“ the Court articulated helpful guidelines for local government entities:
Still, the Court held, local governments must remain respectful of the rights of individuals to hold other views.
If you have questions, or would like more information on how this ruling may affect your agency and projects, please contact Terence Boga or any member of our Public Agency and Municipal Law Department.
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