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Wednesday round-up

Monday’s opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, upholding a New York town’s practice of beginning its town council meetings with a prayer, continues to generate significant commentary – starting at this blog, where Eric Rassbach, Chad Flanders, Paul Horwitz, Erwin Chemerinsky, and Christopher Lund all contributed to our online symposium on the decision.  Other commentary comes from Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, who suggests that “[t]he real worry after Town of Greece is that we get to pick, apparently by popular acclaim, which are the American religions and which are the un-American ones”; from Robin Radner, who contends at legalfeet that the decision “has given powerful ammunition to those who reject the notion of a “wall of separation” between church and state”; from Lisa Soronen, who provides a “roadmap” on prayer for state and local governments at the IMLA Appellate Practice Blog; and again from Soronen at the National Conference of State Legislatures blog.  At PrawfsBlawg, Howard Wasserman weighs in on the decision, arguing that it “seems extraordinarily unlikely that a plaintiff will even be able to even sufficiently plead” that a pattern of prayers rises to the level of violating the Constitution, while at his eponymous blog Ed Mannino breaks down the opinion and suggests that “a single change in the court might occasion a swift overruling or severe limitation on the broad discretion conferred by the Town of Greece majority on public officials to permit sectarian prayers at town meetings.”  In a column for The New Yorker, Amy Davidson discusses the “politics of politeness” at work, especially in Justice Kagan’s dissenting opinion.  Finally, in his column for The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie identifies what he sees as the “crux of the problem with Justice Kagan’s admirable wish for equal democratic citizenship unsullied by sectarianism: it would put the town board of Greece in charge of defining and policing religious diversity.” “For a body that should be concerned with cutting away the shrubbery obscuring stop signs,” Mazie concludes, “that’s a tall order.”       In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Eric Segall discusses transparency at the Court and argues that “[t]he current intense level of secrecy at the court can’t be justified when weighed against the very real benefits of transparency.”  Citing Segall’s op-ed, Beverly Mann also weighs in on transparency at Angry Bear.


  • Adam Liptak of The New York Times writes that Justice Sonia Sotomayor “has found her voice” and “emerged as an increasingly confident figure” on the Court.
  • In his Sidebar column, Liptak also reports on a recent study which concluded that, in First Amendment cases, the Justices’ votes “tend to reflect their preferences toward the ideological groupings of the speaker.”
  • The Constitutional Accountability Center has made the video from its recent “Home Stretch at the Supreme Court” event, which featured Dahlia Lithwick, Elizabeth Wydra, Erin Murphy, and Marty Lederman, available at its website.
  • At Roll Call, Eliza Newlin Carney reports that the Court’s “recent ruling to overturn limits on aggregate campaign contributions has revived a long-running debate over the demise of the nation’s political parties, and what could bring them back to life.”
  • Writing for The Week, Andrew Cohen argues that retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor or John Paul Stevens should lead the investigation into the recent botched execution in Oklahoma.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (May. 7, 2014, 8:22 AM),