Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

August 18, 2013

ZOELLER: Duty calls in filing brief in prayer case

Why would the Indiana Attorney General wade into a United States Supreme Court case over the opening prayers said at town council meetings in western New York state?

It’s a reasonable question Hoosiers might ask after my office filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case that could decide whether the widespread practice of prayer at the start of legislative meetings is constitutional. In analyzing the long history and tradition of opening meetings with prayer, our brief contends that prayers initiated by citizens themselves — including prayers that invoke God, Jesus, Allah and other deities — do not violate the First Amendment prohibition on government establishing religion. Our brief argues that government assemblies are not proselytizing if they allow citizen expression of such prayers at the start of meetings. The Texas attorney general co-authored our brief and a bipartisan group of AGs from 21 other states signed it, reflecting the legal importance of the question.

As Indiana’s attorney general, I serve as lawyer for state government and argue on the side of state authority and in defense of state officials’ actions. My office routinely files friend-of-the-court briefs, also called amicus briefs, in Supreme Court cases where Indiana and other states are not plaintiffs or defendants but have a legal interest that the Court ought to hear. Since 2009, my office has authored or co-authored 23 amicus briefs that other states joined, and we joined 89 briefs other states have authored, at no additional cost to taxpayers.

When important legal issues involving state authority come before the U.S. Supreme Court, my office cannot shrink from a case or stand mute because the case is controversial. It’s important for Indiana to weigh in on the upcoming Supreme Court case of Galloway v. the Town of Greece, New York, because the Indiana House of Representatives was subjected to a similar lawsuit in recent years. Municipal and state officials face uncertainty when deciding whether to start legislative meetings with prayer, and the Supreme Court could bring an end to that confusion.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Holly Sklar SKLAR: Small businesses want minimum wage increase If Congress actually listened to small business owners, the minimum wage would be going up. Instead, July 24 will mark five years without an increase since the federal minimum wage was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009.Small business livelihoods depend on

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • KITCHELL: Reaction times change, but motorists don't Earlier this year, I came home one afternoon to find the worst accident on North Street I can ever recall.A bevy of police cars and four flatbed trucks were removing the pawns in an accident that damaged four vehicles. It was a bit unusual considerin

    July 23, 2014

  • OUR VIEW: Keeping insects under control curbs disease State health officials said last week mosquitoes in two northern Indiana counties tested positive for the West Nile virus, The Associated Press reported.The state health department said mosquitoes in Marshall and Pike counties were confirmed to have

    July 23, 2014

  • THEIR VIEW: Indiana's ethics laws in need of reform The Indiana State Ethics Commission’s recent approval of an agreement between the state inspector general and Tony Bennett settles the charges against the former state superintendent of schools.But the settlement raises more concerns about the loopho

    July 22, 2014

  • MARCUS: Tax simplification is no simple matter The governor and his select invitees to his closed tax conference last month praised simplifying Indiana’s tax code. It is an idea better loved by Americans than baseball, apple, pie or motherhood.There is no question that our national and state tax

    July 22, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The sheer dumbness of an enormous dome There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 22, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Road to funding Indiana highways jammed If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on T

    July 21, 2014

  • LYONS: When academic committees play 'police' If one believes even a significant fraction of the horror stories in the national news media, beastly male behavior has become almost epidemic on American college campuses. Tales of drunken sexual assaults and worse multiply from sea to shining sea.E

    July 21, 2014

  • CEPEDA: Hispanic women flock to the movies My family attended the first morning screening of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which won last weekend’s box office with a $73 million debut.According to Lucas Shaw’s recent article “Hispanic Women Are This Summer’s Most Avid Moviegoers” on the e

    July 20, 2014

  • thelma CONRAD: A true Lincoln original The Cass County Historical Society has had in its possession for many decades several documents containing the signature of President Abraham Lincoln. The society never doubted the authenticity of the signature, given the fact that most of the first

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.