Government & Politics

Kansas attorney general lauds U.S. Supreme Court’s protection of prayer before public meetings

Attorney General Derek Schmidt applauded the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect prayer before town hall meetings Monday.

The high court ruled 5-4 in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway that the upstate New York town does not violate the separation of church and state by opening town hall meetings with a prayer.

The Kansas House and Senate both open floor action with a daily prayer. Schmidt joined a legal brief supporting prayer at legislative meetings.

“Today’s decision reaffirms that the Constitution does not command abandonment of America’s long tradition of opening certain public meetings with prayer,” Schmidt said in statement released Monday. “Although this specific case involved a town council in New York, Kansas joined in support in order to protect the long tradition of opening prayer embraced by both houses of the Kansas Legislature and other public bodies in our state.”

“I’m pleased with the outcome, and we will continue to defend the laws and practices of the state of Kansas against legal challenge,” he added.

In 1983, the court upheld the right of the Nebraska Legislature to begin each session with a chaplain’s prayer, a fact pointed to by Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion.

But Justice Elena Kagan drew a distinction between the Nebraska Legislature and the town hall meetings in Greece, N.Y., which involved ordinary citizens.