Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he plans to sit in on the Supreme Court's oral arguments in a case challenging legislative prayer.
Thirty-four members of Congress, spearheaded by Rubio, filed an amicus brief urging the court to reverse a decision that barred prayer in a New York town’s board meetings.
“I found this ruling to be deeply unsettling, and the Supreme Court has rightfully agreed to hear the appeal,” Rubio said in a Fox News op-ed Tuesday. “The decision has implications far beyond the legal realm, impacting American life, culture and government.”
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was the only Democrat to sign on to Rubio's amicus brief.
Rubio said prayer before legislative meetings has a long tradition. He noted it was common in the Florida state legislature when he was a member, and the Senate chaplin conducts daily prayer in the upper chamber.
In fact, Senate Chaplin Barry Black gained attention for his morning prayers during the 16-day government shutdown in which he chided lawmakers, once saying, “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”
“Even the Supreme Court, which is now considering this case, has long begun every session with the proclamation, “God save the United States and this Honorable Court!” Rubio said.
The Supreme Court case centers the town Greece, N.Y., where the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional prayer during town council meetings. Proponents of the ban said Christian prayers dominated the opening of the meetings and violated the prohibition on respecting an establishment of religion.
“Prayers have been said by members of various Christian denominations, the Jewish faith and a Wiccan,” Rubio wrote. “Nevertheless, because the town is overwhelmingly Christian, so are a large number of prayers.”
The Supreme Court upheld legislative prayer in 1983. The Justice Department has sided with the town of Greece.