The SCOTUS today released its decision in ‘The Town of Greece New York v. Galloway et al.’. As expected in a case of such constitutional import, the decision has engendered considerable discussion.
My question - and I think it is a question and not a position on which to hold a Great Debate - is this:
Why are arguments in ‘establishment cases’, i.e. those based on the “Establishment Clause” of The First Amendment, not put forth that the very recognition by the Government of a deity per se violates the First Amendment?
As in earlier cases, the Court in Greece v. Galloway is not challenged for taking for granted, and viewing as beyond challenge, the permissibility of such things as a “generic theism” and the “invok(ing of) divine guidance”. It takes as a given that prayer (to deities) is an appropriate means to “seek peace for the Nation, wisdom for its lawmakers, and justice for its people”, and thus implicitly acknowledges that an appeal to some higher power is not just a legitimate exercise but is a meritorious one at that. Phrased differently, the Court is saying that deities are worthy of special mention and appeal. True, SCOTUS is not selecting one deity for special praise; it is doing something just as egregious, and seemingly just as unconstitutional though. It is bestowing special status on prayer and to religious deities in general and by doing so is denigrating the beliefs of those who practise no religion and who do not believe in such deities. It has established a meta-religion, where prayer and its objects are privileged. Could that not form the basis of an ‘Establishment Clause’ challenge for cases like Greece/Galloway?
This is such an obvious approach that I’m sure that either it’s been tried and found wanting by the Court or it’s totally off-base and irrelevant. Can anyone enlighten me, please?