Just days after floundering solemnly, as only they can, through oral arguments in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court is persisting in its vulgar and idolatrous practice of insolently petitioning G-d to save them and the United States.
In Town of Greece v. Galloway earlier this week, seven of the nine Supreme Court justices struggled to decide what, if any, prayers, ought to pass constitutional muster in the town meetings of Greece, New York. Clarence Thomas‘s silence may well have been an endorsement of Gullah-Buddhist syncretism. Antonin Scalia, who crossed the bridge from judging to trolling a long while ago–and who has lurked under that bridge ever since–chose this week, as usual, to embody two parts Mayor Rob Ford and three parts Emperor Theodosius (died 395 CE, and who, more than Constantine, made Christianity the official church of the Roman Empire).
But the other seven really seemed flummoxed, and I sympathize. Our country is perhaps blessed with much continuity and civility in its religiosity, but it is markedly more religiously pluralistic than just thirty years ago, when the Marsh case allowed prayers to continue in Nebraska’s legislature (uniquely, in the U.S., unicameral–is this unusual unity unpleasant for unregenerate utopian unbelievers? Undoubtedly). Ulteriority, or lack of it, was the key to the Marsh decision, which approved prayers so long as “government does not act with improper motive in selecting prayer-givers or exploit the prayer opportunity to proselytize, advance, or disparage any one faith or belief.” Some of the justices, e.g. frequent swing voter Anthony Kennedy, seemed reluctant to dive into the mudpit of “parsing prayers” this time around, but what is their alternative? One week of prayer for the monotheists, and then as many weeks for the polytheists as they have deities? That would be just as sensible as some of the proposals put forth in oral argument. Decision expected by next June.
- Analysis: At Supreme Court hearing, passions over religion and its rules – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Supreme Court Justices Consider New York Town’s Prayer Practice (nytimes.com)
- Say a Prayer for the Supreme Court (slate.com)
- Argument recap: Marsh’s demise or its renewal? (scotusblog.com)
- Argument preview: Prayer’s role in government (scotusblog.com)
- Legislative prayer returns to the Court: In Plain English (scotusblog.com)
- Did A Supreme Court Justice Just Admit To Being An Atheist? (huffingtonpost.com)