U.S. Supreme Court Holds In Favor Of Prayer


by Long Island Attorney Paul A. Lauto, Esq.

The United States Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and held in favor of prayer in the case of  Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway.  The case centered on prayers conducted at the beginning of the monthly Town Board meetings in Greece, NY.  Citizens that initially filed suit, alleged that the prayers violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by showing a preference for Christians.  In a split decision of 5-4, the U.S. Supreme Court did not agree.

In the court’s majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, the court stated that there has been a long established history and tradition of prayer in Congress and State Legislatures.  That the type of opening prayer held at the Town Board meetings at issue, falls under the umbrella of a ceremonial or legislative prayer.  The court continued by stating that legislative prayer, “…lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose, and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society.”   Accordingly, the court did not find any First Amendment violation and held that the prayer at issue was permissible.

Many people believe that the high court’s decision failed to uphold the  “separation between church and state” as set forth in the Constitution.  In fact, such language is not actually in the Constitution.  The First Amendment states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… .”  It was Thomas Jefferson that wrote the words of separation between church and state in a letter he penned on January 1, 1802, in his interpretation of the First Amendment.  So at least for now, in God we (and the Supreme Court) still trust.

Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.

Paul A. Lauto, Esq.
Paul A. Lauto, Esq. completed his undergraduate studies at SUNY at Stony Brook in 1987, with a major in political science and a double minor in socio-legal studies and moral-legal issues in philosophy. Mr. Lauto received his Juris Doctor from New York Law School in 1990 and was admitted in 1991 to practice in the courts of New York State, as well as the Eastern and Southern Districts of the United States District Court.

Mr. Lauto has primarily focused on personal injury throughout his career and previously worked as in-house counsel to a major insurance company. In 2002 Mr. Lauto established Paul A. Lauto, PLLC, with a primary concentration on personal injury, all types of accident cases, Wills, Trusts and Estates and more. Paul is the sole author of his Scales of Justice blog, which provides updates and information about current legal stories in the news and how they may affect our lives. Mr. Lauto prides himself on providing clients maximum results, with a high level of personal attorney service and attention that is uncommon in the profession. For more information please visit http://www.liattorney.com