(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
When the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday morning about a case involving prayers at town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., the potential implications for Congress rang through the packed chamber.
The case pits the town against members of the public who contested the overwhelmingly Christian bent — with frequent direct reference to Jesus Christ as the savior — of the town board’s opening proceedings.
Speaking for the federal government, Deputy Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn argued against some of the prayer opponents’ positions. At one point, he specifically referenced a concern about a potential ruling that children could be unduly coerced by hearing prayers at legislative sessions.
“We think the other elements that the respondents have pointed to for coercion are ones that trouble us because they are things that have analogs in our history. So, for example, they point to the presence of children. But, of course, on the Senate floor are the Senate pages, who are all high-school juniors,” Gershengorn said. “And as the reply brief points out, there are often children in the galleries at state legislatures being acknowledged.”