Press Release

Supreme Court Hears Landmark Religious Liberty Case

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

Washington, D.C. – Today the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in a landmark religious freedom case named Town of Greece v. Galloway. The case will decide whether starting a town meeting with a prayer led by a volunteer member from many different religious traditions, including Christian, Jewish, Bahá’í, and Wiccan, violates the Establishment Clause. Becket’s friend-of-the-court brief was discussed during argument, highlighting the Becket’s argument that the Court should take a history-based approach to the Establishment Clause.

The following are quotes that can be attributed to Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at Becket:

  • “”The Founders knew what it meant to have a state church and legislative prayer doesn’t come close. The Founders had been colonists in an empire with an established church and most of the colonies also had established churches. Legislative prayer wasn’t what they banned when they said there would be no official state church.””
  • “”The Town didn’t adopt an official state religion by randomly assigning Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís, and Wiccans to deliver invocations at council meetings.  In fact, it’s hard to think what official religion that could possibly be.””
  • “”This case is about whether the professionally offended will be able to strong-arm cities into banning anything that could be remotely interpreted as religious.””
  • “”Courts should get out of the business of trying to make everyone happy with the government. All too often it is the grouchiest members of society who get their way, at the expense of honoring religious diversity.””
  • “”The Court has to decide whether cities may recognize and celebrate the religious diversity of this country, or whether government must instead treat religious identity as a threat.””
  • “”As was apparent at today’s argument, the Court has a great opportunity in this case to call a truce in the culture wars by putting Establishment Clause law on a firmer footing. Let’s hope it takes that opportunity.””

Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. In 2011, Becket argued before the U.S. Supreme Court and won a 9-0 victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Melinda Skea, Communications Director, at or call 202.349.7224.