We are Americans United and ACLU attorneys. AMA on our Supreme Court case Greece v. Galloway and the separation of church & state.
We are attorneys working to ensure that all Americans are free to practice their faith – or to practice no faith – without governmental influence or interference. We all have the constitutional right to a government that neither promotes nor disparages religion generally or any religions in particular. As lawyers at the ACLU and AU, we defend that right.
Today we are discussing the most significant religion case before the Supreme Court this term - Town of Greece v Galloway. Thirty years ago, in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), the Supreme Court upheld the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of opening its sessions with nonsectarian prayers delivered by a chaplain. The issue in this case is whether, after Marsh, the First Amendment allows a town board in Greece, NY (a suburb of Rochester) to open its meetings with sectarian prayers–that have been overwhelmingly Christian in practice–and to deliver those prayers in a manner that pressures citizens to participate in them.
Today AU argued that the Town’s prayers violate the Establishment Clause for two reasons: (1) they are delivered in a manner that coerces citizens to participate in prayer, and (2) they are often sectarian (usually Christian), and thus reflect the Town’s preference for a particular religion. In an amicus brief supporting AU, the ACLU argued that the Court should overrule Marsh v. Chambers and hold that any official governmental prayer violates the separation of church and state. ACLU also argues that if the Court is unwilling to go overrule Marsh, the Town’s prayers must be nonsectarian.
Participants: Dan Mach (dmachACLU) of the ACLU and Greg Lipper (theglipper) of Americans United
Photo proof: https://www.aclu.org/files/imce_images/profile_images/danmach-greglipper.JPG (Dan & Greg: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-mach/ & https://www.au.org/about/people/gregory-lipper) Twitter proof: https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/398161361693208576
UPDATE (5:09 PM ET): Thank you for all your questions and for your support. We’re signing off for now, but you can learn more about the case here:https://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/town-greece-v-galloway and https://www.au.org/content/town-of-greece-v-galloway.