Wednesday, May 7, 2014
While this is off the topic of legal education, I wanted to weigh in on the Supreme Court's decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, No. 12–696, slip op. at 8 (Sup. Ct. 2014).
As a southerner, and a member of a minority religion, I am used to prayer in public governmental settings. People have asked me if I am offended when a person offering the prayer or invocation prays in Jesus's name, and I am not. What bothers me is when a person in a public setting says "we pray this..." The "we" is the word that I find problematic, and the "we" is what the Supreme Court failed to understand.
At our law school graduation this coming Saturday I would never presume to speak for everyone, or even anyone else in that audience on a political issue. Why do people offering a prayer assume that they know how everyone else in a public gathering prays? Prayer is very personal, and some people exercise their First Amendment rights by choosing not to pray, at all.
While I am not a fan of prayer at public gatherings, I am happy to tolerate it (and the Supreme Court has said I must accept it) if the person praying would simply say "I pray this..." I would fully support that person's right to express their beliefs in public. I do not grant them the right, or authority, to pray for me, and neither should the Supreme Court.