Fortunately, a majority of the justices thought otherwise. Justice Kennedy’s opinion notes the long history of prayer in both Congress and state legislatures. As these practices and earlier court opinions demonstrate, expressing specific beliefs does not mean that the government is endorsing a particular religious establishment. Furthermore, the demands of the plaintiffs that any legislative prayers be reviewed to ensure a nonsectarian character would itself constitute an intrusion of the state into religious practice. The majority sensibly recognized the long tradition of Americans in public settings calling on God’s aid. The fact that four justices were willing to overturn this tradition, long upheld by law and practice, is disturbing, and an important reminder of how radical judges seek to remake America according to their own views. Nevertheless, in this instance the majority should be applauded for a wise ruling.
Read the court’s opinion here.