Town of Greece v. Galloway

When it came to a town hall Christian prayer, Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014) said there was no violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

These are the facts of this case. To start, Town of Greece (Plaintiffs) and Susan Galloway (Respondent) are the parties of this litigation. Susan Galloway sued the town of Greece because it only hired Christian clergy to conduct prayers before town meetings. Galloway claimed this preference violated the Establishment Clause. That being said, the district court ruled for the Town of Greece; however, the US Court of appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the decision. The Supreme agreed to hear the case.

Now, here’s the issue of this case. Do prayers held at a town meeting violate the Establishment Clause?

The Court ruled this way. Town hall prayers did not violate the Establishment Clause.

Justice Kennedy delivered the majority opinion. He said: “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.” Justice Kennedy saw no violation of the Establishment Clause in this case.

In the dissent opinion, Justice Elena Kagan had some interesting points. She discussed how a neutral prayer might be impossible to craft; also, in the end, when creating a neutral prayer, the government would be prescribing prayers, which is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Additionally, Justice Elena Kagan talked about the town council and chaplain. Justice Kagan said anyone not pleased with the meeting or council could be set up for unfair treatment. According to Justice Kagan, this would be unequal treatment.

As well, Justice Kagan talked about the lack of diversity in her dissent in regards to town hall meetings and business.

“Still more, Greece’s Board did nothing to recognize religious diversity: In arranging for clergy members to open each meeting, the Town never sought (except briefly when this suit was filed) to involve, accommodate, or in any way reach out to adherents of non-Christian religions. So month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits.”

Historically, that being said, people have always had an unalienable right to worship. In fact, this right predates government and the Constitution. People have an unalienable right to worship a creator, which is enshrined in the US Constitution.

According to natural law, people have always been able to worship their creator. This right to worship a predates all positive law. As well, this right exists regardless of any government, state, or legislative body.

In the past, when a government became oppressive and took away natural rights and unalienable rights, the American people would abolished that government. For example, when British oppressed the early American colonies, the colonists rebelled and declared independence. Also, in another example, when the people of early Kentucky and Virginia were oppressed by the US federalist party, they produced the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions, which outlined their grievances against the government. Finally, the Federalist papers called independence when the oppressive British government oppressed early Americans. Abolishment of government has always been the case when governments became tyrannical in the early history of America. 

In conclusion, this was a good case. It showed how one faith can take over the town hall meeting in the name of the Establishment Clause. That being said, this case showe the need for religious diversity at town hall meetings. However, for the most part, I enjoyed the historical reasons for the idea of religion behind the Constitution. I enjoyed this case.

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