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.


Eduardo M. Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. The views expressed in the piece are his own, and should not be attributed to Cornell University or Cornell Law School.

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