The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has joined a friend of court brief to the United States Supreme Court asserting that religious invocations at town council meetings in Greece are “simply unacceptable” and violate the Establishment Clause to the First Amendment.
In the local-gone-national case over the separation of church and state, Greece v. Galloway, the court will revisit the constitutionality of legislative prayer for the first time in 30 years to consider whether the Greece Town Council violated the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state by beginning each of its meetings with a prayer led by a member of the clergy or local citizen.
Town officials argue that their selection of prayer leaders was not exclusive. From 1999 through 2007, however, Christians delivered every invocation prayer.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in favor of the local citizens who brought the case, holding that the Town of Greece violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The 2nd Circuit explained that the town’s procedures “virtually ensured a Christian viewpoint” because nearly all of the prayers were delivered by Christian clergy.
“This case has far-reaching implications,” said Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “Sectarian legislative prayer strikes at the heart of the First Amendment and government sponsored religious favoritism is simply unacceptable. The government cannot align itself with one faith and make others feel like outsiders.”
ADL joined with the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Interfaith Alliance Foundation in a coalition brief in this case.