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Supreme Court case could change Arizona public meetings

PHOENIX — The nation’s highest court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case involving prayers before public meetings.

The lawsuit, filed in 2008, involves a town council in Greece, New York. For years, the council has opened meetings with Christian prayers. Two women who complained say they were told to either leave the room or just not listen.

The case has now made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

During the Arizona legislative session, a daily prayer is read after roll call in the House and Senate. Lawmakers take turns leading prayers and sometimes invite others to do it. While Jewish, Native American and Muslim prayers have been read, Christianity is the most common. That’s not a problem for Josh Kredit, legal counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy.

“They did it before drafting the Constitution. Congress has done it since it began,” he said. “I just think it’s really important that we seek higher guidance before conducting this important business.”

During her U.S. Supreme Court service, Arizona native Sandra Day O’Connor supported the so-called “endorsement” test which pushed for government to be neutral and not appear to endorse religion. Some conservative groups hope that O’Connor’s replacement, Justice Samuel Alito, will be more accommodating and allow cities, counties and states to promote religion as long as no one is forced to participate.

A ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway is expected next June.