WP: Supreme Court upholds legislative prayer at council meetings
A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that legislative bodies such as city councils can begin their meetings with prayer, even if it plainly favors the religion of the speaker.
The court ruled 5 to 4 that Christian prayers given before meetings of an upstate New York town council did not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion.
"Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court's conservative majority.
"Opening public meetings with prayer is a cherished freedom that the authors of the Constitution themselves practiced," he said. "Speech censors should have no power to silence volunteers who pray for their communities just as the Founders did."