Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

August 6, 2013

Attorney General Olens files amicus brief in support of legislative prayer

- — Attorney General Sam Olens has joined a bipartisan coalition of 23 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court supporting the long tradition of legislative prayer. The friend-of-the-court brief, filed in the case of Town of Greece N.Y. v. Galloway, asks that the Court overturn a lower court ruling that legislative prayer at the beginning of a government assembly violates the Establishment Clause.


“The legality of legislative prayer is a major Constitutional question before the United States Supreme Court, which will impact every government in Georgia,” said Olens. “The same Congress that drafted the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the Constitution also regularly opened in prayer. Our Nation has a centuries-long tradition of balancing religious freedom and public prayer, and I believe that tradition must be protected.”


The States also argue in the brief that guidance is needed from the Court clarifying that legislative prayer is permissible without requiring the prayers be screened for sectarian references. Nearly thirty years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer in Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 792 (1983). In that case, the Court based its holding on the “unambiguous and unbroken history” of legislative prayer dating back to the First Congress.


Since then, several rulings from lower courts have reached conflicting conclusions about the precedent set by Marsh. The ambiguity surrounding legislative prayers has led to costly litigation for all levels of government. One such case was Pelphrey v. Cobb County, which was litigated while Olens was Chairman of the Cobb County Commission. In this case, the Eleventh Circuit accepted the position advanced by the States in the brief that where a legislative body provides an opportunity for prayer without advocating a particular faith or being governed by an improper motive, there is no violation of the Establishment Clause.


Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia also joined the amicus brief.

Text Only
Top News
  • Johnson family files second suit against school system

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson's parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bears spotted on Baytree Road

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 29, 2014

  • photo.JPG Dump truck suspects apprehended

    LCSO has apprehended both of the suspects believed to be connected with the theft of a dump truck in Macon on Monday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

Top News

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results