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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Chambers v. Marsh

Volume 4 . Chapter 12 . § 12-09

Chambers v. Marsh43 § 12-09

For many years, the Nebraska unicameral legislature has begun each of its sessions with a prayer offered by a chaplain chosen biennially and paid out of public funds. This practice was challenged in 1980 by a state senator who claimed that it constituted an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment. A federal district court found the practice to be permissible, but a federal appeals court ruled that the practice violated the establishment of religion clause.

In a six to three decision, the Supreme Court reversed the federal appeals court and upheld the constitutionality of the Nebraska legislative chaplaincy program. The Court surveyed the history of legislative chaplains, observing that "[t]he ...

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