US Supreme Court Stands By Opening Prayers For Legislative Meetings

The Supreme Court handed down a ruling in favor of Christian prayer at legislative meetings on Monday morning.

That means its ok for groups like city councils and county commissions to start meetings off with a prayer.

Two people from New York sued saying a specifically Christian prayer before town council meetings violated the constitution.

We’ve seen these issues here in the Valley too – both the Madison County Commission and Huntsville City Council got letters from an atheist group about their pre-meeting prayers.

We visited attorney Rebekah McKinney to get her to help break down the decision that she spent the morning rifling through.

After examining the ruling, McKinney says those opening prayers stand up under the court’s decision – as long as attendees or public officials don’t have to participate, “The government cannot require religion of a specific type, and they cannot require that you endure it without violating the First Amendment.”

The court ruling says frankly, it doesn’t matter if the prayers offend people.

McKinney notes, “There’s a lot of things in this world that offend people about speech, and you see that time and again with things that have been held to be acceptable under the First Amendment, though they may offend you, that does not make them unlawful.”

Now members of the court did specify that prayers couldn’t attack or attempt to convert, but they can certainly open a meeting.

McKinney adds that she thinks the ruling will apply to school board meetings as well.

However, she says some of the language may prevent it from extending to all prayers at school events.

You can read the full ruling here.