Date of this Version
Court Review, Volume 50, Issue 3 (2014)
The Court’s 2013-2014 Term did not begin auspiciously. In Madigan v. Levin1—the first orally argued case of the new session—the justices were slated to decide whether the Age Discrimination in Employment Act leaves employees of state and local governments free to bring age-discrimination claims under Section 1983 and the Equal Protection Clause. After a variety of procedural and substantive difficulties emerged during oral argument, however, the Court declared that its grant of certiorari had been improvident.2 Happily, Madigan proved to be a quickly forgotten bump in the road. Over the following nine months, the Court handed down yet another set of important and interesting rulings in civil cases, on matters ranging from abortion clinics’ buffer zones to Younger abstention. Like the civic leaders of Greece, New York, we will begin by turning our thoughts to prayer.
FIRST AMENDMENT: ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE
In Town of Greece v. Galloway,3 a 5-4 Court upheld Greece’s practice of inviting local clergy and laypeople to open each of the town’s monthly board meetings with a prayer. During the 12-year period at issue, Greece never denied a non-Christian’s request to serve as a prayer-giver, but the overwhelming majority of those who were solicited by the town’s staff or who volunteered on their own initiative were Christian ministers.4 The town did not screen the prayers in advance, nor did it provide advice about the kinds of things that the prayers should or should not include. Many of the prayers were explicitly Christian in content.