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Indiana takes lead in asking SCOTUS to reverse legislative prayer ban

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Indiana and Texas are the lead authors of an amicus brief filed Friday that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling banning legislative prayer at the beginning of a government meeting.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement on the brief joined by 21 other states in Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway, 12-696, urging the justices to “craft an unambiguous ruling that prayer is permitted before legislative bodies without requiring legislative leaders to screen prayers for sectarian references.” The court is expected to hear the case in the term beginning in October.

Zoeller’s statement notes that since the high court ruling 30 years ago in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983), “government officials at all levels typically are faced with costly litigation whether they decide to permit legislative prayer or not.

“The Court should reject the assumption that the content of private citizens’ prayers before legislative assemblies is attributable exclusively to the government,” according to the brief drafted by Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher. “Such prayers, rather are expressions of private belief made in service to an elected body of citizens. Those present may participate or not, but each citizen’s mode of rendering this particular service to a governmental body may rightfully be accommodated.”

Other state AGs signing the brief are those from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
 

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