West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined an effort in support of beginning public meetings with a prayer.
Morrisey filed an amicus curia, or friend of the court, brief Thursday along with 22 other states' attorneys general that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court's ruling connected to prayer. A court in New York ruled a town violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it did so.
"West Virginia and other states filed this brief because opening a legislative session with prayer dates back to the founding of our Republic," Morrisey said in a news release.
"West Virginia has a proud tradition of beginning a public meeting with a time for prayer, and I believe this practice should continue and the free expression of faith should not be quashed."
The brief Morrisey joined asked the Supreme Court to make a rule allowing for prayer before legislative meetings that doesn't require legislative leaders to screen the prayer "for sectarian references."
During the legislative session the state House of Delegates and Senate almost always start meetings with a prayer. Morrisey's letter states the chaplain from each body gives a non-denominational prayer or designates someone else.
It's common for a guest to conduct the prayer for each chamber. It's just as common for the person leading the prayer — a legislator or guest — to end "in Christ's name we pray" or "in Jesus' name we pray."
The lower court ruled that the prayer violated the First Amendment's establishment clause because the prayers at this particular town's meeting could seemingly align the town with Christianity, according to the SCOTUSBlog.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case, Town of Greece v. Galloway, after its next term starts in October.