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Greece Post
  • Court sides with town in prayer case

  • The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the Town of Greece after Americans United For Separation of Church and State sued in February of 2008 on behalf of two residents — Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens — who believed the opening prayer at town meetings was unconstitutional.

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  • The U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the Town of Greece after Americans United For Separation of Church and State sued in February of 2008 on behalf of two residents — Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens — who believed the opening prayer at town meetings was unconstitutional.
    The court found that the town’s prayer policy does not violate the Establishment Clause, the portion of the First Amendment that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
    “The reaction was very positive,” said Town Supervisor John Auberger, “and overall, I think it was a victory for free speech.”
    According to Auberger, the town was upholding a longstanding American tradition.
    “Since the first congressional days, our country has begun its congressional meetings and state meetings with a prayer,” he said.
    Joel Oster, a senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, who represented the Town of Greece, said the ruling was “very exciting.”
    “The court did the right thing in upholding this practice,” said Oster. “I think historically, Americans have rallied around prayer.”
    Joseph Conn, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he was “very disappointed” with the outcome.
    “We thought the facts were quite clear that this was a violation of the constitution,” said Conn. “Prayer should be up to the individual citizen, not up to the government.”
    Federal Judge Charles Siragusa cited a number of factors in reaching this decision, including that the town invited “clergy from all denominations within the town, without any guidance or restriction on the content of the prayers.”
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