Indiana To Play Lead Role In U.S. Supreme Court Prayer Case

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a case questioning a New York town's practice of praying before each town board meeting.

greg zoeller

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WTIU News

Attorney General Greg Zoeller speaks to the media at a press conference in Bloomington, Ind.

State Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Indiana will likely play a leading role in a U.S. Supreme Court involving government prayer.

In 2005, a U.S. District Court ruled the Indiana General Assembly’s practice of praying before each session was unconstitutional.

A circuit court later reversed the ruling, saying those who challenged the state’s practice did not have legal standing to do so. It did not weigh in on the question of constitutionality, which is one reason Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office wrote a legal brief encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case in which a New York town’s use of prayer before board meetings is being challenged.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to take up the case, which Zoeller says could affect larger legal issues.

“Really, have we used the Establishment defense – saying that we shouldn’t try to establish a state-sanctioned religion – to limit people’s free exercise?” Zoeller asks.

Reba Boyd Wooden, the Indiana executive director for the atheist organization Center for Inquiry, says the General Assembly’s daily prayer before each session marginalizes those who do not practice religion.

“The religious people seem to think that when you try to grant any kind of respect or equality to people of other religions than their own or particularly people who have no religion, that it’s infringing on their religious freedom and that’s not true,” she says.

Zoeller says because Indiana has been involved in a court case surrounding government prayer before, his office will play a major role in leading a group of states in a brief to the Supreme Court.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

View all posts by this author »

  • cgosling

    Politicians should vote for the people and not necessarily for their party.

  • the barracudaa

    It isn’t just about establishing a state religion. Favoring religion over non religion is also unconstitutional. Pray all you want, just do it before the meeting starts, not during the meeting.

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search News

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media News:

Recent Stories

Recent Videos

Find Us on Facebook