"Joining a community that has tragically lost an entire family in a moment of prayer is both appropriate and legal. The United States Supreme Court has clearly upheld and recognized the Guaranteed Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion. As Attorney General, I have joined with other State Attorneys General in successfully allowing gatherings which include local government and other legislative functions to open a meeting with an appropriate prayer. I invite the ACLU to join with me and other State Attorneys General in both recognizing and protecting Civil Liberties and Constitutional Rights."For background, read U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Allows Christian Prayer in Civic Meetings and also read 13 States vs. ACLU in Appeals Court over Civic Prayer
-- Marty Jackley, Attorney General, South Dakota
In addition, read Supreme Court Justice Scalia Said Government Should Favor God of the Bible
-- From "South Dakota AG Responds to ACLU Attack on Religious Freedom" by Newswire posted at American Clarion 3/17/16
On March 16, 2016, the South Dakota Attorney General held a community meeting inviting the press and the community in order to provide an update on the death and financial investigation into the Gear Up program. Prior to beginning the meeting, a pastor opened with a general prayer. The ACLU has characterized the prayer as a constitutional violation. Despite positions taken by the ACLU, it is both appropriate and legally permissible.
In August of 2013, South Dakota Attorney Jackley joined 23 other states in a multi-state brief filed in the United States Supreme Court urging that the U.S. Constitution allows for prayer during governmental meetings and legislative session.
The Attorneys General advocated that “The American people deserve an Establishment Clause jurisprudence that is clear, workable, and faithful to the text and history of the First Amendment.” The Court further recognized that legislative prayer, while religious in nature, has long been understood as compatible with the Establishment Clause. This includes opening of governmental meetings where prayer is meant to lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values long part of the Nation’s heritage.
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Click headlines below to read previous articles:
California Mayor Calls City Prayer Vigil to Seek Solutions
Mississippi Police Chief Thanks God at City Prayer Meetings
Arizona Town Council Prays to Jesus, Rabbi Fumes
Texas School Supt. Tells Anti-prayer Atheists to Go Fly a Kite