Written by Don Byrd
It didn’t take long for Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece to have an impact. The court’s ruling upheld the use of sectarian invocations to open city council meetings, and within hours an injunction halting the prayer policy of the Carroll County Commission in Maryland was lifted, citing the Supreme Court’s decision.
The plaintiffs in the local case vowed to continue to press the issue.
They argue that what happened in Greece is not analogous, in part because Carroll commissioners themselves offer the prayer rather than calling on outside clergy.
“Unlike in the town of Greece, where even an atheist could give an invocation, in this case you have a very exclusive policy,” said Monica Miller, a lawyer with the American Humanist Association, which is representing the plaintiffs.
We won’t know the full impact of Town of Greece until judges in legislative prayer cases across the country begin applying that new law to diverse situations and policies. If the judge’s move in the Carroll County case is any indication,, the effects may be far-reaching.
The Baptist Joint Committee issued a press release on Monday expressing “disappointment” with the ruling. More to come on the details and impact of this week’s substantial development in church-state law. The BJC’s resource page on Town of Greece is here.