Activists insist that elected officials praying in public violates the Establishment Clause. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that all elected officials are allowed to pray if they please before public meetings. Learn more at Firstliberty.org/Briefing.
It’s easy to misunderstand the law when it’s confusing, but not when there are multiple decisions on the topic.
In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that a paid legislative chaplain is perfectly permissible under the constitution. Then, in 2014, in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the court said those prayers could even be sectarian without violating the Establishment Clause.
But, still activists question the practice. In Mt. Sterling, Ohio, village councilmembers want to start their meetings with prayer. But, activists insist that might be “chipping away at the Establishment Clause.”
That’s hard to imagine, given that not only has the U.S. Supreme Court twice said that legislative prayers do not violate the Establishment Clause, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said in the 2017 decision Bormuth v. County of Jackson that those sectarian prayers can be offered by the lawmakers themselves!
As Judge Sutton wrote, concurring in the en banc decision of the Sixth Circuit, “the United States Constitution does not tell federal judges to hover over each town hall meeting in the country like a helicopter parent, scolding/revising/okaying the content of this legislative prayer or that one.”
First Liberty Institute represented the County of Jackson in that case because we believe that all Americans—even elected officials—should be free to pray (or not) before public meetings and according to their own conscience.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.