What to watch: The Supreme Court building, from top; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio have little in common — other than their popularity; GOP Sens. Mark Kirk and Susan Collins are expected to support an anti-bias bill.
new case on religion in public
The chairman of the local Baha’i congregation concluded his prayer with “Allah-u-Abha,” which loosely translates to “God the All-Glorious.” A Jew offered a prayer speaking of “the songs of David, your servant.” And a Wiccan priestess, mindful of her venue in the town of Greece, N.Y., thought that Athena and Apollo were apt deities to call upon.
But they were the exceptions. Almost every other “chaplain of the month” during a decade of town board meetings in this Rochester suburb of Greece, N.Y., was a Christian, and more often than not called on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to guide the council’s deliberations.
Susan Galloway, uncomfortable with the sectarian prayers, and Linda Stephens, an atheist, had objected to sitting through the invocations after the board changed from its old practice of beginning the meetings with a moment of silence.
A federal appeals court said last year that such a “steady drumbeat” of Christian invocations violates the Constitution’s prohibition against government endorsement of religion. Now, the issue is to come before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Few phrases in the Constitution have divided Supreme Court justices quite like the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which says simply: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” What has proven complicated is defining the boundaries of religion’s inclusion in public life. Issues such as prayer in public schools, accommodation of certain religious practices, and the display of crosses, crèches and other religious symbols have produced a series of constitutional tests for the court and case-by-case rules that please few.
mayoral race one piece of puzzle
If people along the streets of Detroit seem less than consumed by the prospect of choosing a new Mayor Tuesday, perhaps it is the barrage of distractions: the governor who has been testifying about Detroit’s descent into bankruptcy; the appointed emergency manager who has brought in his own team to run City Hall; the long list of questions about the fate of this city’s artwork, its streetlights, its tens of thousands of empty buildings.
Yet Detroit’s mayoral election is one more piece of a puzzle unfolding here as a city that has long wrestled with dysfunction and debt seems to be throwing everything up in the air and searching for a way to start over. Some in Detroit say the choice is stark: traditional Detroit politics vs. some new, more technocratic way forward.
Benny Napoleon, the sheriff of Wayne County and a longtime police officer who is running for mayor, has drawn support from some labor unions and ministers. He is trailing in the polls against Mike Duggan, a former hospital executive who is credited with returning fiscal health to Detroit Medical Center and has the backing of many business leaders.
Duggan has pledged to improve extraordinarily long police response times, get tens of thousands of streetlights back on and fill some of the city’s thousands of empty homes with new families.
But Napoleon, 58, has raised questions about Duggan’s credentials, noting that Duggan lived in the suburbs, not the city, just before announcing his bid. Napoleon’s plans include a police officer with special responsibilities in each of the city’s 139 square miles; more data-driven crime-fighting techniques; and anchor developments to bolster neighborhoods.
Duggan and Napoleon are both Democrats.