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Town of Greece v. Galloway

United States Supreme Court
572 U.S. 565 (2014)

Town of Greece v. Galloway


The Town of Greece (defendant) opened its monthly board meetings with a prayer given by local clergymen. Many of the prayers invoked God and Jesus, and many invoked universal themes such as requesting a “spirit of cooperation” during the ensuing meeting. Greece invited a different person to lead the prayer each month. Greece’s policy was that any minister or layperson, even an atheist, could give the prayer. Greece did not deny anyone the opportunity to be the monthly prayer giver. Most of the congregations in Greece, however, were Christian, and from 1999 to 2007, each of the monthly prayers was given by a Christian minister. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens (plaintiffs) attended the town meetings and were offended by the prayers. Galloway brought suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, alleging a violation of the First Amendment. Galloway argued that Christian prayers were favored over prayers from other denominations, including general and nonsectarian prayers. The district court granted the town’s motion for summary judgment, and the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Kagan, J.)

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