Supreme Court: Sectarian prayers before legislative sessions don’t violate the Constitution

posted at 12:41 pm on May 5, 2014 by Allahpundit

A 5-4 ruling, with Kennedy swinging towards conservatives this time to make a majority. (Among the public, it’s … not as close as that.) The Court held more than 30 years ago that prayers before a legislative meeting are simpatico with the First Amendment, finding that “the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society.” Today’s case explored a wrinkle in that ruling: What if the prayers are usually given by members of one faith? And what if, instead of vaguely mentioning “God’s blessings,” they invoke beliefs specific to that faith, e.g., a Christian minister praying for Jesus Christ’s guidance? Does that go too far towards an Establishment Clause violation?

Held: Nope. Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, argued that forcing the legislature to closely supervise each minister who prays before them to make sure they’re not overly specific would itself be a problem for the Establishment Clause. Better to let the minister pray in a sectarian manner, even if that means references to Jesus or Allah and his prophet, Mohammed. Here’s the money quote via Gabe Malor:

But won’t sectarian prayer raise the risk of religious indoctrination? It’s one thing to pray nonspecifically to “God,” but if you’re praying to Jesus then you’re obviously endorsing Christianity. Kennedy’s answer to that is interesting: The reason it’s okay to have prayers before a legislative session is because those prayers aren’t really designed to spread the faith, they’re more just to “solemnize” the occasion. That reminds me of the idea of “ceremonial deism,” a term that’s been used in dissents before to mock the Court’s willingness to tolerate minor government endorsements of religion so long as no one takes the endorsement very seriously. Technically “In God We Trust” may violate the idea that the feds shouldn’t be taking sides between believers and nonbelievers, but it’s so vague and so rote that it’s basically lost all religious meaning, which makes it okay. Kennedy’s offering a twist on that. Quote:

cd1cd2

As long as the chaplain’s asking his particular God for general blessings, he’s okay. Once he starts in with “Jesus, turn the hearts of the nonbelievers,” though — or once the legislature itself starts praying during the session — he’s/it’s on shaky ground, since that would introduce an element of actual coercion. (Incidentally, on the question of coercion, the Court’s conservatives were split today between Kennedy, Roberts, and Alito on the one hand and Thomas and Scalia on the other. The first group made clear that even small amounts of coercion in the opening blessing could violate the Establishment Clause. The second group argued that the Clause is chiefly a federalism prohibition and shouldn’t reach the “subtle pressure” of legislative prayer, esp.) Kennedy’s essentially jettisoning the deism part of “ceremonial deism” but keeping the ceremonial part.

Wait, though. None of this answers the other question up top — namely, what happens if every legislative session is being opened with prayers from the same faith? If only Christians give the blessings, wouldn’t that be an Establishment Clause violation? It depends, says Kennedy, on whether that’s by design or just a byproduct of town/city demographics:

di1di2

If your town is 99 percent Christian, you don’t have to bus in some imams to give the blessing now and then. As long as no one’s formally barred from delivering the prayer because of their faith, you’re within the law — for now, at least. All of these hot-button Supreme Court rulings are one conservative vacancy away from being overturned.


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But won’t sectarian prayer raise the risk of religious indoctrination? It’s one thing to pray nonspecifically to “God,” but if you’re praying to Jesus then you’re obviously endorsing Christianity.

A ridiculous concept that should be rejected outright by all conservatives. Separation of church and state is a legal invention with no basis in the Constitution. All have the right to pray no matter where they are.

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Kennedy’s offering a twist on that

Good thing it wasn’t a mandate, in which was considered a Tax… right?

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

In a word: Duh.

And the fact that every court liberal voted against it makes starkly obvious that liberals are nothing but antireligious bigots and trash who are all-in for the Obama Party’s goal of destroying churches as a threat to the all-powerful State.

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 12:47 PM

BISHOP (almost)

wolfplus3 on May 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Anyone else as uncomfortable as me that our freedoms hang by a thread (one vote on the SC)?

Othniel on May 5, 2014 at 12:48 PM

I have yet to see anyone explain how saying a prayer to open a public meeting even comes close to the state establishing a religion.

gwelf on May 5, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Libfree Butthurt to commence in 3..2…1

ToddPA on May 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Between the lines: of course it’s probably unconstitutional under the idiotic regime that has grown out of Establishment Clause case law, but good luck enforcing it.

What are the Wise Latina and the statist bull going to do? Send Eric Holder to arrest the state legislators? Demand that their prayers be stricken from the record?

The SCOTUS cons are saving the liberals from themselves here.

HitNRun on May 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Libfree Butthurt to commence in 3..2…1

ToddPA on May 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

He already got it in the headlines.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM

So in mixing it up, a community does what to acknowledge the atheists in the crowd who routinely get pissed off when anybody dares mention God outside a religious building? Does the council just sit their in dumb silence for a minute to honor atheisim?

Happy Nomad on May 5, 2014 at 12:56 PM

“the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become always been part of the fabric of our society.”

One can’t fully appreciate this:

In Congress, July 4, 1776

… without understanding and appreciating this:

In CONGRESS,
SATURDAY, March 16, 1776.

IN times of impending calamity and distress; when the Liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive Administration, it becomes the indispensible duty of these hitherto free and happy Colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of Freedom, Virtue and Posterity.

The Congress therefore, considering the warlike preparations of the British Ministry to subvert our invaluable rights and privileges, and to reduce us by fire and sword, by the savages of the wilderness and our own domestics, to the most abject and ignominious bondage: Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees, duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty devoutly to rely in all their lawful enterprizes of his aid and direction–do earnestly recommend, that FRIDAY, the seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said Colonies as a day of HUMILIATION, FASTING, and PRAYER; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere, repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence, prevent the further effusion of kindred blood. But if continuing deaf to the voice of reason and humanity, and inflexibly bent on desolation and war, they constrain us to repel their hostile invasions by open resistance, that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our Officers and Soldiers with invincible fortitude to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the Continental arms by sea and land with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil Rulers and the Representatives of the People in their several Assemblies and Conventions; to preserve and strengthen their Union, to inspire them with an ardent disinterested love of their Country; to give wisdom and stability to their Councils; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the Rights of America on the most honorable and permanent basis–that he would be graciously pleased to bless all his People in these Colonies with Health and Plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible Patriotism and of pure undefiled Religion may universally prevail; and this Continent be speedily restored to the blessings of Peace and Liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest Posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for Public Worship, and abstain from servile Labour on the said Day.

By Order of Congress,
JOHN HANCOCK, President

Attest………..CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.

Colony of the
Massachusetts-Bay.

In COUNCIL, April 3, 1776.

READ and accepted, and Ordered, That a suitable Number be printed, in order that each of the religious Assemblies, in this Colony, may be furnished with a Copy of the same.

Sent down for Concurrence………..PEREZ MORTON, Dep. Sec’ry.

In the House of REPRESENTATIVES, April 4, 1776.

Read and concurr’d………..SAMUEL FREEMAN, Speaker, pro Tem.

Consented to,

JAMES OTIS,
BENJAMIN GREENLEAF,
CALEB CUSHING,
JOHN WINTHROP,
JOHN WHETCOMB,
ELDAD TAYLOR,
MICHAEL FARLEY,
JOSEPH PALMER,
SAMUEL HOLTEN,
MOSES GILL,
JOSEPH GERRISH,
BENJAMIN LINCOLN,
CHARLES CHAUNCY,
JOHN TAYLOR,
BENJAMIN WHITE.

GOD SAVE THE PEOPLE.

Library of Congress Document Image.

Note how it ends with “GOD SAVE THE PEOPLE.”
Not “God save the King.”

Our Founders did not believe in “the divine right of Kings”.
Our Founders believed in the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.

Our nation’s Founders obeyed the Biblical advice found in Second Chronicles:

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Less than two months before they signed the Declaration of Independence, they unified on May 17, 1776 and observed

a day of HUMILIATION, FASTING, and PRAYER; that we may with united hearts confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere, repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; and by inclining their hearts to justice and benevolence, prevent the further effusion of kindred blood. But if continuing deaf to the voice of reason and humanity, and inflexibly bent on desolation and war, they constrain us to repel their hostile invasions by open resistance, that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our Officers and Soldiers with invincible fortitude to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the Continental arms by sea and land with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil Rulers and the Representatives of the People in their several Assemblies and Conventions; to preserve and strengthen their Union, to inspire them with an ardent disinterested love of their Country; to give wisdom and stability to their Councils; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the Rights of America on the most honorable and permanent basis…

Their prayers were answered.

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 12:57 PM

All of these hot-button Supreme Court rulings are one conservative vacancy away from being overturned.

Ugh. Thanks for the reminder, AP.

changer1701 on May 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Should have been 9:0, except for incredible dummies.

It’s really dangerous for the republic to have such ignorant scumhags on the bench.

They don’t understand what separation of church/state means.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Repeating from the headline comments…

Why is there a prayer before a city council meeting, can’t they just get to the business they are elected to conduct.

Bishop on May 5, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Are you not aware of the difference that prayer made at the Constitutional Convention?

(I’ll need to split this into 2 comments, due to the links.)

At first, almost nothing was accomplished in the first 4 to 5 weeks, and the Constitutional Convention almost ended in complete failure.

What turned it around?

On Thursday, June 28, 1787, Ben Franklin said

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other — our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own wont of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

OT – more to it.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Yet…five Justices, including Kennedy, can’t grasp the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Libfree Butthurt to commence in 3..2…1

ToddPA on May 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

He already got it in the headlines.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Yup. This will be the afternoon gripe.

ToddPA on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

OT – Don’t miss this.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Yet…five Justices, including Kennedy, can’t grasp the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

What is your problem?

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:04 PM

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Your shellacking of the HA slave, in the headlines, was superb.

That SC justices, leftists and other scum don’t grasp what “separation of church/state” really means is devastating to the republic.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

The anti-Christian legal community is going to be furious.

DisneyFan on May 5, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Good for the SCOTUS to finally figure out the 1st amendment is about “freedom of religion” and NOT “freedom from religion.
I’ve admitted before that I’m an atheist (NOT antitheist), and I’ve survived the opening prayers of many many meetings, dinners, and banquets without bursting into flame, or even making a fuss of any kind. I have no problem with others asking for guidance or blessing from whatever deity they might believe in at that start of a meeting or dinner – and I’m glad the SCOTUS saw fit not to interfere.

dentarthurdent on May 5, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Between the lines: of course it’s probably unconstitutional under the idiotic regime that has grown out of Establishment Clause case law, but good luck enforcing it.

What are the Wise Latina and the statist bull going to do? Send Eric Holder to arrest the state legislators? Demand that their prayers be stricken from the record?

HitNRun on May 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Any ordinances voted for and approved on a meeting started with a prayer would become null and void in the eyes of the court. That is not something any town would wish upon itself.

Rix on May 5, 2014 at 1:11 PM

All of these hot-button Supreme Court rulings are one conservative vacancy away from being overturned.

Pray that none of them get killed.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM

If your town is 99 percent Christian, you don’t have to bus in some imams to give the blessing now and then. As long as no one’s formally barred from delivering the prayer because of their faith, you’re within the law — for now, at least….

I expect Satanists in Oklahoma will try that next.

workingclass artist on May 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

SC declined this

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Yet…five Justices, including Kennedy, can’t grasp the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

What is your problem?

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 1:04 PM

Clarity I think, on my part. To be specific, I’m referring to the four dissenting Justices, as well as Kennedy’s ‘over-rationalization’ of the first amendment. The ruling should have simply been that Congress made no law here, so there is no Federal case.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM

As long as the chaplain’s asking his particular God for general blessings, he’s okay. Once he starts in with “Jesus, turn the hearts of the nonbelievers,” though — or once the legislature itself starts praying during the session — he’s/it’s on shaky ground, since that would introduce an element of actual coercion.

I personally attended and witnessed a breakfast hosted by the Mayor of one of the 50 state capital cities, and there was an Islamic prayer given in Arabic, with no English translation provided. Only those who know Arabic would have any understanding of the content of that prayer. How “inclusive” was that?

The court said in 5-4 decision Monday that the content of the prayers is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.

How am I, as someone who is not conversant in Arabic, to know whether or not that prayer called for Islamic domination and turning the hearts of the “nonbelievers”?

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Clarity I think, on my part. To be specific, I’m referring to the four dissenting Justices, as well as Kennedy’s ‘over-rationalization’ of the first amendment. The ruling should have simply been that Congress made no law here, so there is no Federal case.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM

UGH! Except there was already a federal case, because a lower court had ruled the prayers unconstitutional. If SCOTUS had ignored the case, then that federal court’s ruling would have stood which in itself was UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

melle1228 on May 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

This will end the same way the schools have gone. Elected politicians in diverse communities will soon be opening with Christain prayers and Muslim prayers at alternating meetings, then soon enough a third, then fourth, then finally all but the Christian prayers–”we ran out of months!” I suspect in Ann Arbor they already open with prayers to Allah.

2ndMAW68 on May 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I know in your little mind you think we all agree. Go with that, since none of us are going to convince your ignorant azz any differently.

melle1228 on May 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Eat mor chikin:

Tyson Foods says 2nd-quarter profit rose to $213 million from $95 million a year earlier – @Market * Watch

(Had to separate “market watch” to get past mod.)

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Only in a truly Orwellian world are the practices of the people who created the Constitution considered unconstitutional without an Amendment.

The Founding Fathers practiced faith in public and private every day of their lives. There were constant sermons and prayers done on public property. To claim otherwise is to claim that we’ve “always been at war with eastasia.”

That 4 fools claimed praying before a council meeting is unconstitutional is proof that they are not following the law and should be removed from their seat.

njrob on May 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I agree you have nothing of interest or intelligence to add, so you go digging for nonsense in order to support…what, I don’t know.

I look forward to Muslim prayers in city meetings across America.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

So which is it? Do you support our God given right to pray whenever we damn well please, or not?

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 1:26 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I don’t know what most Hot Arians think, but the Founding Fathers would agree. To them “religion” was Christianity.

I would like to think that most here would let anyone practice their religion, and would say that the government cannot restrict the practice thereof. Kind of like where in the 2n Amendment where it says “shall not be infringed.”

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

How am I, as someone who is not conversant in Arabic, to know whether or not that prayer called for Islamic domination and turning the hearts of the “nonbelievers”?

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Who cares if they bang their heads on the floor to honor their sheep abusing “deity”? You know that “Allah” of theirs is not real anyway. Unlike our AP, of course.

Rix on May 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

UGH! Except there was already a federal case, because a lower court had ruled the prayers unconstitutional. If SCOTUS had ignored the case, then that federal court’s ruling would have stood which in itself was UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

melle1228 on May 5, 2014 at 1:19 PM

He’s just saying that the Court should’ve stated that Congress didn’t make any law here so of course free exercise prevails. Keep it short and sweet instead of giving “weighted tests” and more prenumbras and emanations.

He didn’t say the Court shouldn’t rule in this issue.

njrob on May 5, 2014 at 1:31 PM

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

We need a better class of troll. The ones we have now are well below average intelligence.

njrob on May 5, 2014 at 1:33 PM

A suspected gunman who allegedly opened fire inside the Veterans Administration hospital in Dayton, Ohio, injuring at least 1, has been arrested, according to police reports – @USATODAY

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I think a more accurate statement is that the 1st Amendment restrained only the federal government. But with incorporation all levels are now restrained by it.

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

I look forward to Muslim prayers in city meetings across America.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

So would I. I would also look forward for the non-Muslim exodus from those cities.

nobar on May 5, 2014 at 1:35 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

I look forward to Muslim prayers in city meetings across America. That’s because I adore a religion that treats women and gays like dirt.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Del Dolemonte on May 5, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

And some politicians say that Second Amendment only covers muskets and flint rifles because other armaments did not exist in the United States of 1789. You wouldn’t have a problem with that, right?

Rix on May 5, 2014 at 1:42 PM

As long as the chaplain’s asking his particular God for general blessings, he’s okay. Once he starts in with “Jesus, turn the hearts of the nonbelievers,” though — or once the legislature itself starts praying during the session — he’s/it’s on shaky ground, since that would introduce an element of actual coercion.

I personally attended and witnessed a breakfast hosted by the Mayor of one of the 50 state capital cities, and there was an Islamic prayer given in Arabic, with no English translation provided. Only those who know Arabic would have any understanding of the content of that prayer. How “inclusive” was that?

The court said in 5-4 decision Monday that the content of the prayers is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.

How am I, as someone who is not conversant in Arabic, to know whether or not that prayer called for Islamic domination and turning the hearts of the “nonbelievers”?

ITguy on May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

God gave us all free will. Jesus won’t coerce us into anything. He respects everyone’s free will even if they don’t return the favor to anyone else.

RI_Red on May 5, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Thank you, Justice Obvious.

Akzed on May 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

And even though the Court ruled largely correctly here (there is no balancing test necessary to freely exercise religion), it royally screwed up by not taking the NJ gun law case.

Supreme Court Declines to Review Lower Court’s Approval of New Jersey Law Sharply Restricting Right to Carry Gun Outside the Home

Link is to Ace’s site.

njrob on May 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

I think a more accurate statement is that the 1st Amendment restrained only the federal government. But with incorporation all levels are now restrained by it.

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

You are correct. And that is the way it was originally understood. Some states established Christianity as that state’s official religion.

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:46 PM

And even though the Court ruled largely correctly here (there is no balancing test necessary to freely exercise religion), it royally screwed up by not taking the NJ gun law case.

Supreme Court Declines to Review Lower Court’s Approval of New Jersey Law Sharply Restricting Right to Carry Gun Outside the Home

Link is to Ace’s site.

njrob on May 5, 2014 at 1:45 PM

the SC did make some good move, but that one is a screw up.

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 1:47 PM

If you don’t understand the word “establishment” you should be put on ship that isn’t supposed to go underwater destined for somalia.

Murphy9 on May 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Jesus desires that all be saved; he said as much. Judge Moore is stating his opinion, nothing more. Treat it as such.

RI_Red on May 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

The number is likely limited to the birthers and those frequenting WND.

rukiddingme on May 5, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Yet…five Justices, including Kennedy, can’t grasp the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

You mean like this, Obama puppet?

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/28/health-care-from-the-pulpit-heres-how-some-churches-are-spreading-the-word-about-obamacare

http://m.washingtonpost.com/politics/black-church-leaders-try-to-inspire-congregants-to-vote-for-obama/2012/09/03/136b2da0-f3f0-11e1-892d-bc92fee603a7_story.html

Now dance for us, puppet, and denounce your Barack Obama and your Barack Obama Party for violating church and state.

Or sit back and be exposed as a hypocrite and racist. I don’t really care which.

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM

We have to pray that a conservative doesn’t leave the court while Obama’s still in office. I’ll also pray that the leftist fascists on the court get impeached or otherwise exit. I’m sick of these 5-4 rulings and of people who argue that the court isn’t split on ideological lines. The leftists who ignore the clear language of the Constitution are a disgrace to the country and the memories of the founders.

cajunpatriot on May 5, 2014 at 2:05 PM

All of these hot-button Supreme Court rulings are one conservative vacancy away from being overturned.

Well, of course, I am being a simpleton again but if the lefties use precedent for “conservative” rulings as much as they do for “liberal” rulings, then it would be hard to overturn this unless a new twist is brought to the court.

But since when does the Rule Of Law enter into the modern liberal thinking? Ans: Nevah.

Chuck Ef on May 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM

I hope hot air has a post about this Supreme Court judge in Alabama who says that the 1st ammendment doesn’t apply to any faith but Christianity.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/ten-commandments-judge-1st-amendment-doesnt-cover-those-other-religions/

It would be interesting to see how many people agree.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Hey boy, did you forget something?

I look forward to Muslim prayers in city meetings across America.

coolrepublica on May 5, 2014 at 12:15 PM

You and your Barack Obama Party and your Barack Obama Party are openly calling for Muslim prayers before meetings, so you yourself are pushing Islam as a state religion by your own standards.

So why don’t you condemn yourself first, hmm? Or is your point that you’re a hypocritical lying bigot who is incapable of meeting the standards you demand of others, just like your worthless Barack Obama?

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

You and your Barack Obama Party and your Barack Obama Party are openly calling for Muslim prayers before meetings, so you yourself are pushing Islam as a state religion by your own standards.

So why don’t you condemn yourself first, hmm? Or is your point that you’re a hypocritical lying bigot who is incapable of meeting the standards you demand of others, just like your worthless Barack Obama?

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

http://infidelsarecool.com/2008/02/obama-call-to-muslim-prayer-is-one-of-the-prettiest-sounds-on-earth-at-sunset/

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 2:17 PM

The SC made some interesting decisions on Cinco the Quatro

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

She is Jeantel.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 2:21 PM

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/05/FL-Teacher-Bans-Bible-He-s-Not-Permitted-to-Read-Those-Books

“Do this; don’t do that.
You ain’t supposed to be here.”

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 2:23 PM

This is a time here in Africa where there are a number of different cross-currents of modernity that are coming together to make things even more challenging. Some people believe that people ought to be able to only do what they say they ought to do, or to believe what they say they ought to believe, or live by their interpretation of something that was written down a thousand plus, two thousand years ago. That’s not the way I think most people want to live.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/kerry-religion-not-way-i-think-most-people-want-live_789066.html

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM

For the coolpubica of HA

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM

For the coolpubica of HA

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 2:26 PM

You betcha – looks like the people actually engaging in slavery are black Muslims in Africa.

Funny how that works……

dentarthurdent on May 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Supreme Court: Sectarian prayers before legislative sessions don’t violate the Constitution

…JugEars is happy…that he can keep his rug!

KOOLAID2 on May 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Good call.

Skywise on May 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Incredible. We have to go all the way to a SC decision to recognize that what the guys who actually WROTE the Constitution used to do is Constitutional.

Cleombrotus on May 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Yet…five Justices, including Kennedy, can’t grasp the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Now dance for us, puppet, and denounce your Barack Obama and your Barack Obama Party for violating church and state.

Or sit back and be exposed as a hypocrite and racist. I don’t really care which.

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Please see my ‘revised and extended’ remarks to clarify my original statement (i.e., I think we’re on the same page).

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM

If churches want to get in bed with the state, feel free to start paying taxes anytime, guys.

triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

There is no separation of Church and state’. Those words are no where within the Constitution. Those words are a ‘Separationist’ view that has been projected ON the Constitution but i not supported BY the Constitution. Freedom of Speech, for example, supports religious freedom from government oppression.

The Constitution states the (federal) government can NOT officially establish a religion or force the participaion in or the NON-participation in religion. That is a HUGE difference from the ‘Separationist’ view that religion has no place / can’t exist within government!

George washington declared that government could NOT EXIST without God. It is amazing that we KNOW and have evidence to support the fact that our founding Fathers said such things yet ‘Separationists’ / Liberals / whatever you want to call them attempt to persuade people that our founding Fathers intended our government to restrain / eliminate religious practice in any situation. It simply is NOT TRUE.

easyt65 on May 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM

If churches want to get in bed with the state, feel free to start paying taxes anytime, guys.

triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Why don’t you enlighten all of us rubes and explain how this relates to any part of this story.

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Speech should be taxed, there you have it folks…The view from the fever swamp. Thanks for your participation patriot.

Murphy9 on May 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

There is a big difference between a group of people having a moment of prayer before a meeting and promoting a political party or candidate from the pulpit.

Before the Constitution was signed, the Founding Fathers were at a stand-still that threatened there ever being a signing of a Declaration. Benjamin Franklin called for them all to go to the church and pray over what they were all gathered there to do…and so they did. Afterwards, they resolved their differences, wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence we now have.

‘Declaration of INDEPENDENCE’ …not of ‘OPPRESSION’…not of ‘LIMITED Freedom’…not of ‘GOVERNMENT DEFINED & ENFORCED Independence’. Government declaring to a people when they can and can’t pray and participate in the exercising of their own freedom’ is EXACTLY what our Founding Fathers opposed and why they wrote the Declaration of Independence!

easyt65 on May 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

I just read the entire decision, concurrences and dissents. It is an illogical decision because it is based on the concept that because Christianity is now and has been the primary religion in this country, we have established a tradition (in fact it is a Christian tradition) that it is OK to claim and a person was actually G_d and that we all should pray to that person. And somehow that is not a violation of the Establishment Clause.

For you Christians, think about going to a government sanctioned hearing every day and then having the prayer basically calling believers in Jesus pagans and idolaters. Now if you are telling me that that would not bother you, I don’t believe you.

So now, when we get to the point where a government body opens its session 98 out of every 100 times with a prayer that says Allah is G_d and Muhammed is his only messenger, you will need to accept that as part of our tradition, unless, of course, you think that the tradition is actually belief in Jesus, in which case you have Established a religion as the state religion.

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Of course a leftist lawyer would say such untruthful things.

Murphy9 on May 5, 2014 at 4:21 PM

So now, when we get to the point where a government body opens its session 98 out of every 100 times with a prayer that says Allah is G_d and Muhammed is his only messenger, you will need to accept that as part of our tradition, unless, of course, you think that the tradition is actually belief in Jesus, in which case you have Established a religion as the state religion.

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

No. If a person doesn’t like the prayer of public officials at public events they can vote them out, but denying anyone the right to pray whenever they want to is about as anti-liberty as it gets. And there have been a lot of anti-liberty actions lately.

NotCoach on May 5, 2014 at 4:27 PM

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 1:15 PM

Thank you for clarifying.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 4:31 PM

If churches want to get in bed with the state, feel free to start paying taxes anytime, guys.

triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

.
Influencing governmental decisions is NOT equivalent to “getting in bed with the state.”

Christianity was always intended, and expected (by our Founders) to influence government, without government having any influence over Christianity.
.
And it was all accomplished without establishing a ‘theocracy’.

listens2glenn on May 5, 2014 at 4:39 PM

So now, when we get to the point where a government body opens its session 98 out of every 100 times with a prayer that says Allah is G_d and Muhammed is his only messenger, you will need to accept that as part of our tradition…

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Our nation’s foundational concepts descend from the Judeo-Christian ethic. Islamic teaching is contrary to that ethic, so if we ever “get to the point where a government body opens its session 98 out of every 100 times with a prayer that says Allah is G_d and Muhammed is his only messenger,” we will no longer be the same nation, and we will indeed have an established state religion. And unlike the Judeo-Christian ethic, non-compliance with that prayer will result in loss of inalienable rights or punishment.

Ricard on May 5, 2014 at 4:40 PM

As long as no one’s formally barred from delivering the prayer because of their faith, you’re within the law

As long as no one writes their bigotry down, discriminate at will. America!

Mmm...Burritos on May 5, 2014 at 4:42 PM

For you Christians, think about going to a government sanctioned hearing every day and then having the prayer basically calling believers in Jesus pagans and idolaters. Now if you are telling me that that would not bother you, I don’t believe you.

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

So you’re already admitting that you don’t care what we think and that you’re only interested in information that fits your predetermined conclusion.

Therefore, you are a bigot, and we need waste no time with you.

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 4:46 PM

As long as no one writes their bigotry down, discriminate at will. America!

Mmm…Burritos on May 5, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Which is why your Barack Obama and your Barack Obama Party use fake email addresses, redact everything, and stonewall any requests for information.

Thank you for proving that Barack Obama and your Barack Obama Party are nothing but bigots who are trying to hide their bigotry and hate from everyone else.

But you don’t care about that, do you, boy? That’s because you are filth who supports and endorses bigotry and hate.

northdallasthirty on May 5, 2014 at 4:49 PM

For you Christians, think about going to a government sanctioned hearing every day and then having the prayer basically calling believers in Jesus pagans and idolaters. Now if you are telling me that that would not bother you, I don’t believe you.

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

.
There’s no excuse for anyone in a government related meeting, of any religious affiliation, to be praying a prayer to their respective Deity, that flagrantly “calls out” unbelievers, for failing to measure up to a ‘standard’.
.
Preliminary praying before any government function should be a request to the given Deity (recognized by the individual doing the praying), to help the meeting go smoothly, with a minimal amount of contentiousness, and strife, and also to provide wisdom and knowledge for the decisions that have to be made.
.
That kind of a prayer is only a problem to those persons who demand that NO practice of any religion (especially Christianity) should enter their eyes and ears … ever.
.
There is no “freedom from religion” in the United States, except within the four walls of your residence.

listens2glenn on May 5, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
- Thomas Jefferson Letter to the Danbury Baptists Jan. 1. 1802.

I still struggle with what was going on with Jefferson’s opinion back then. He is but one founding father, but they give a larger view of the opinion at the time.

He brought up the whole separation between Church & State, but I think he was speaking only of this in a legislative sense. As long as the government does not pass a law requiring the prayer to start a meeting, it should hold. Practice and precedent are vastly different from being required by law. I think this case went directly to the government not wanting to prohibit the free exercise of religion, period.

Still after all these years, this is a very difficult area. Methinks this was why the religious parts were put into the first amendment and what the “wall” is for. Once the judiciary starts ruling on religious issues and legislatures start legislating religious issues it would become entirely clouded because they can’t rule one way without impacting someone else in a negative manner. The government of the people cannot regulate religion fairly, equally, or effectively.

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 5:00 PM

As long as no one writes their bigotry down, discriminate at will. America!

Mmm…Three Week Old Refried Beans on May 5, 2014 at 4:42 PM

A perfect illustration of how the Democrat Party lost the college graduate vote in 2012.

A+

Del Dolemonte on May 5, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Wow. I know everyone here will likely not click on this link to a Kos article, but it is interesting. I am truly shocked to have found it on daily kos.

Link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/01/06/1176767/-Why-Are-Atheists-Always-Attacking-Christians#

I started to see the Atheist movement in the context of religious history and development in the West.

Animism.

Polytheism.

Monotheism — perhaps the world’s greatest technological achievement, as where previously each God exercised his own law, Monotheism enforces a moral unity on societies of men.

Catholicism — where the moral unity became universal and existed in constant challenge to the authority of states.

Protestantism — Christianity as a form of protest or resistence against worldly evil.

Atheism — a protest even against Protestantism, which is now seen as a blocking factor to self-actualization and truth.

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 5:08 PM

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 4:19 PM

Apparently you missed this part of the decision, prominently quoted in this post?

Prayerthat is solemn and respectful in tone, that invites lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing,serves that legitimate function. If the course and practiceover time shows that the invocations denigrate nonbeliev15
Cite as: 572 U. S. ____ (2014)
Opinion of the Court
ers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion, many present may consider the prayer to fall short of the desire to elevate the purpose of the occasionand to unite lawmakers in their common effort. That circumstance would present a different case than the one presently before the Court.

cs89 on May 5, 2014 at 5:11 PM

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Context also matters. Remember Jefferson wrote the “wall” letter to Baptists, in a state (Connecticut) which did have an established religion at the time…

cs89 on May 5, 2014 at 5:14 PM

cs89 on May 5, 2014 at 5:11 PM — no I did not miss that at all, you are doing the Obama thing and raising a straw man issue that no one is contending….

but if you think that it is not denigrating to someone that is not Christian to hear every day that the government praises Jesus as G_d, therefore if you don’t you are not part of the community…then I really dont know what to tell you. As I said if you were a Christian and had to listen to an opening prayer every day that denied that Jesus was the son of G_d…you cannot tell me that would not bother you.

Or how about if your child goes to school every day and hears a prayer that denies Jesus is the son of G_d. How would you feel about that?

Honestly, this is one of most biased decisions I have seen from the Court since it talked about pnumbras

georgealbert on May 5, 2014 at 5:36 PM

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 5:08 PM

If they are saying that that is the progression of religion, that animism proceeded polytheism which proceeded monotheism, they are repeating a claim from many years ago which was proven wrong–many years ago.

I haven’t seen that claim in, well, many years.

davidk on May 5, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Far too many religious bigot cannot define establish. No freaks putting a tree out or having a prayer read does not establish a government religion. I know it’s hard. Just like basic biology for the film my abortion crowd.

CW on May 5, 2014 at 6:17 PM

If churches want to get in bed with the state, feel free to start paying taxes anytime, guys.
 
triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

 
Good to see you, triple. We missed you on the
 

Meanwhile in Nevada, 90,000+ of Harry Reid’s constituents may lose their health care coverage
 
…moderately skilled or low-skilled people making $8 to $14 an hour working for landscaping businesses, fire-prevention firms or fencing companies could lose work-based coverage because the plans cost so much relative to salaries.

 
thread.

rogerb on May 5, 2014 at 6:25 PM

If churches want to get in bed with the state, feel free to start paying taxes anytime, guys.

triple on May 5, 2014 at 3:35 PM

You first freak.

BTW your argument has NO bearing on this case. ES.

CW on May 5, 2014 at 7:05 PM

So, when will there prayers for Allah before legislation? How can they refuse if at least one Muslim legislator requests?

farsighted on May 5, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Still after all these years, this is a very difficult area. Methinks this was why the religious parts were put into the first amendment and what the “wall” is for. Once the judiciary starts ruling on religious issues and legislatures start legislating religious issues it would become entirely clouded because they can’t rule one way without impacting someone else in a negative manner. The government of the people cannot regulate religion fairly, equally, or effectively.

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Yet still not unconstitutional. Get to work YOU Have an amendment to write smarty!

CW on May 5, 2014 at 7:11 PM

So, when will there prayers for Allah before legislation? How can they refuse if at least one Muslim legislator requests?

farsighted on May 5, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Yet still not unconstitutional. Get to work YOU Have an amendment to write ……

CW on May 5, 2014 at 7:12 PM

So, when will there ( be? ) prayers for Allah before legislation? How can they refuse if at least one Muslim legislator requests?

farsighted on May 5, 2014 at 7:09 PM

.
Why should allowing prayers to “Allah” be a problem ?

listens2glenn on May 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM

Why should allowing prayers to “Allah” be a problem ?

listens2glenn on May 5, 2014 at 7:35 PM

It shouldn’t be a problem. But let a Muslim say a prayer in a state house.
I gurantee you It will make the news.

weedisgood on May 5, 2014 at 8:18 PM

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