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Friday, August 16, 2013

Chris Lund on Legislative Prayer

My friend Christopher Lund has a fine piece on Slate (how rare it is that I get to string those words together!) on legislative prayer, and specifically on the upcoming Supreme Court case of Town of Greece v. Galloway. I suppose it contributes to my enjoyment that I am in substantial agreement with Chris that Marsh v. Chambers was always a problematic case, that it is easy to do legislative prayer "wrong,"* and that the questions and difficulties involved in doing it "right" may themselves raise insuperable problems. As I write in The Agnostic Age, although I think Marsh is wrong as a matter of sound constitutional law, I would be willing to let sleeping dogs lie. My concern with Galloway--and the Second Circuit opinion in the case was not a perfect decision, to be sure--is that a poor vehicle has been chosen that will end up with a majority doing more mischief than Marsh alone accomplished. Views differ on this. Regardless, however, Chris has done more and better work on this subject than anyone I know, and the Slate piece is very good.

* For an example of its being done "wrong," see this story, which involves my own state of Alabama and Twinkle Cavanaugh, the head of the state's Public Service Commission and a living reminder that all that twinkles is not gold. 

Posted by Paul Horwitz on August 16, 2013 at 10:42 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink

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I also am concerned about "more mischief" and have guarded support of the federal government's brief since it might help to limit it -- the 2CA opinion is likely a goner, after all.

So, I hope the ruling will leave open the possibility to address excesses like the "abortion prayer" cited.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 16, 2013 11:36:34 AM

Hooray for mischief!

Posted by: Marc DeGirolami | Aug 16, 2013 11:56:27 AM

Spoken like a true Oakeshottean conservative.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Aug 16, 2013 12:03:03 PM

Paul, there is much mischief in that ambiguous parenthetical, that I should probably let sleeping dogs lie!

Posted by: Dan Markel | Aug 17, 2013 5:15:06 PM

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