Key point 13-02. The courts have ruled that the First Amendment allows chaplains and other ministers to pray before legislative assemblies.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is permissible for state legislatures to select and compensate legislative chaplains,14 Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983).and other courts have approved congressional chaplains 15 Murray v. Buchanan, 720 F.2d 689 (D.C. Cir. 1983).and the practice of opening county board meetings with prayer.16 Bogen v. Doty, 598 F. 2d 1110 (8th Cir. 1979). The court upheld this practice since no expenditure of funds was involved and the primary purpose and effect of the prayer was public decorum and solemnity at county board meetings. These requirements would not be necessary after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Marsh case.