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Justice Anthony Kennedy on 5 Supreme Court Rulings: Prayer, Religious Liberty, Gay Marriage

Justice Anthony Kennedy on 5 Supreme Court Rulings: Prayer, Religious Liberty, Gay Marriage

Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014)

The meeting area for the Board of Town of Greece, New York. | (Photo: Town of Greece)

Kennedy wrote the majority for a 5-4 decision which allowed local governments to have sectarian prayers before beginning official meetings.

At issue was the invocation policy of Town of Greece, New York, which during monthly board meetings often had Christian ministers give prayers.

Kennedy authored the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas concurring.

Kennedy invoked the 1983 Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers as the source of why the Court ruled in favor of Greece.

"In Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U. S. 783, the court found no First Amendment violation in the Nebraska legislature's practice of opening its sessions with a prayer delivered by a chaplain paid from state funds," wrote Kennedy.

"The decision concluded that legislative prayer, while religious in nature, has long been understood as compatible with the Establishment Clause. As practiced by Congress since the framing of the Constitution, legislative prayer lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose, and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society."

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