Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a court brief on behalf of a community in New York state which is under fire for opening it's city council meetings with a public prayer, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Abbott, who is running for governor, says his 'friend of the court' brief, filed in conjunction with the Attorney General of Indiana, asks the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that the public led prayer amounts to an unconstitutional 'establishment' of religion.
"Despite hundreds of years of established tradition and a Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of legislatures to convene each day with a prayer, the town of Greece New York has been improperly prohibited from beginning their monthly town board meetings with a prayer," Abbott said. "This legal action reflects a bipartisan, multistate effort to defend the longstanding and constitutionally protectyed right of legislative bodies to begin their meetings with prayer.
An atheist group sued the city, and the community argued that 'acknowledgements of God' at official functions have been customary since the nation's founding.
Abbott's motion also urges the high court to use this case to provide clarity to the Establishment Clause doctrine by adopting a single Establishment Clause test that is clear, workable, and faithful to the text and history of the First Amendment.
Atheist groups like the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation have been 'nibbling at the margins' of accepted usage of, mainly Christian, religious observance. The group last year asked an east Texas school district to stop allowing cheerleaders to write Bible verses on the sheets of paper that football players run through to take the field. A court struck down that effort.