dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Obama's "War on Religion"

Here's a link to an article in Slate on the Supreme Court's upcoming city council prayer case.  As expected, the Obama administration has argued in its brief that those who open city council meetings with prayers should be court martialed:

This fall, the Supreme Court will hear a big case about church and state, Greece v. Galloway. Greece, a town in upstate New York, routinely opens its city council meetings with prayers from local clergy. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals held that practice unconstitutional, finding the prayers had been overwhelmingly Christian. Because the facts are somewhat murky and the law murkier still, few people initially noticed the case. But last May, the Supreme Court agreed to decide it. And now suddenly everything is up for grabs.

 

Greece v. Galloway is still a case about legislative prayer. But at least one side is using the appeal as a vehicle to have the court totally revamp its approach to the Establishment Clause. The court may just bite. And in a truly remarkable turn this week, the Obama Justice Department just came into the case—on the town of Greece’s side! Contrary to the positions of most appeals courts (and even some reliably conservative judges), and contrary to the language of earlier Supreme Court opinions, the solicitor general now takes the position that Greece’s practice is perfectly constitutional and the presence or number of Christian references doesn’t matter.

A double bluff, obviously.

 

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

I doubt that Greece is the only township in this area with sucha practice. I live about 75 miles from there and will be interested to see if this makes history. John Noonan's classic compendium on texts regarding religious freedom might be good background for all following this case.

I haven't seen the brief. But I don't understand how these two statements can both be correct:

"As expected, the Obama administration has argued in its brief that those who open city council meetings with prayers should be court martialed"

"the solicitor general now takes the position that Greece’s practice is perfectly constitutional"

 

 

 

Give it a rest, please. Obama is just another Chicago machine thug --  at best. I understand Commonweal has a progressive bent, but this sychophantic covering for someone plainly unqualified to be president is pretty unseemly.

Patrick:  Actually, it's not sychophncy.  Read Shelby's White Guilt, and you'll understand.  Many of the folks at commonweal are involved in acedemia, where the pressures to conform to the white guilt thing are enormous.  Other than that, their not such a bad lot.

"Chicago machine thug" ?

Classy comment.

 

 

Obama is just another Chicago machine thug

I don't know why I repeated the comment. It certainly does not mean that I agree with it. I have deleted it permanently from my brain.

Patrick Kasarski---Thanks for your comment, but I confess I don't understand what it has to do with the topic at hand.  Could you clarify, please?

This follows the president's decision to pump for abolishing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That has long been a Republican dream, so much so that they devised the story that Jimmy Carter, by encouraging home ownership among the undeserving, got Fannie and Freddie to lead astray the upright bankers who brought on the most recent Depression. Mr. Obama hasn't embraced the myth, but he has embraced the Republican solution -- just as he gave us the Swiss-Romney version of universal health care, offered us the Republican market-based (as opposed to tax-based) solution to greenouse gasses, and continued the Republican renditioning of suspected terrorists. I have finally figured it out: Barack Obama is really Bob Dole.

But it is inaccurate to tie him to the Chicago Democratic machine. He was allied with the reformers.

What does "court martial" mean in this context?  And how can the Administration switch sides once they have taken a position in the case?

As a young reporter, I covered many local boards, councils, and commissions, and more often than not, they started with the pledge of allegiance and a short prayer (always something like this: O Lord, keep us ever mindful that we hold the public trust and to guide our hearts and minds so that we build our society in ways ever pleasing to your sight, Amen).

My beef was never with the prayers but with the fact that the prayers never seemed to do any good.

Why prosecute public bodies for praying in public when they clearly don't really mean it?

Make that Shelby Steele, not "Shelby".  Don't know him well enought to call him by his first name; in fact I don't know him at all - only his writings.

Perhaps the remarkably insightfull wisdom so often found in the words and deeds of the speaker in the video found at the link below will help in differentiating satire from description when it comes to Obama.  The picture of Lincoln and the truly stunning vest are, I believe, subtle clues only the best of us would have caught.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkc1x3pjQAc

hi, yes, in Uk too similar things happen. We recently had a very similar case. A council in Devon wanted to open the meeting in prayer and if I remember correctly a humanist on the Council objected and so lo and behold, suddenly Council prayers were banned.  

 

Share

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.