Justice Antonin Scalia, never one to shy away from stating his inflammatory, contradictory opinions in order to serve what he believes to be an adherence to the laws outlined by the U.S. Constitution, is standing by those that wish to recite prayers before open board meetings in the town of Greece, New York.
The case of legislative prayer — Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway — made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court after two nonbelievers objected to the overwhelmingly Christian-oriented prayers recited at the beginning of local town board meetings. According to Constitution Daily, the two residents, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, claimed that these prayers violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Cause, which says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
The side of the opinion on which Justice Scalia reportedly lies is unsurprising. In a recent, candid interview with New York Magazine, Scalia claimed that he was a devout Catholic that believed in both God and the Devil. When asked whether he believed in the latter, his response was “Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.”
During a Court hearing of Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, Justice Scalia once again made a reference to the Devil, albeit this time in a more joking manner. While Justice Samuel Alito was questioning whether or not a prayer could exist that could appeal to Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus rather than the current Christian-based prayer, Justice Scalia interrupted, “What about devil worshippers?”
According to an article posted on Talking Points Memo, Justice Scalia’s quip received laughs in the chamber. While he was likely making a joke, he does have a valid point. No matter how you phrase the prayer, someone is going to be left out, and one religion is likely to be favored.
“What is the equivalent of prayer for someone who is not religious? There are many people who do not believe in God. ... If you had an atheist board, you would not have any prayer. I guarantee you,” Justice Scalia added during the hearing.
Still, Justice Scalia appears to be standing by the town’s practice. The Court is scheduled to vote on the case on Friday.