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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Nov 22, 2017

The practice of opening government meetings with prayer has been a longstanding tradition going back centuries. However, the federal courts of appeal are split over this very practice. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing


Can county commissioners open their own meetings with prayer?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently prohibited Rowan County’s commissioners from opening their meetings with prayer. But, the federal courts of appeal are split over whether prayers offered by legislators at local government meetings are unconstitutional. In another one of our cases, Bormuth v. County of Jackson, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit approved of the same practice.

Opening government meetings with prayer is a centuries-old tradition that goes back to before the founding of our nation and continues to this day before Congress, statehouses, and thousands of local governments across the country. It shouldn’t be very controversial.

The Supreme Court previously approved of the long-standing tradition of “legislative prayer” and its role in solemnizing policymaking sessions, encouraging lawmakers to selflessly seek the greater good, and acknowledging the role that faith plays in the lives of millions of Americans. In 1983, in Marsh v. Chambers and then again in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court held that prayers offered by private citizens before government meetings are fully consistent with the Constitution and an important part of America’s history and heritage.

But, what if that citizen is an elected official? That’s the question we hope the Supreme Court will now answer.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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