Political Division along Religious
Lines? Two Recent Decisions
of the US Supreme Court

In two recent decisions the Supreme Court of the United States interpreted two
religious clauses of the First Amendment. The legitimacy of legislative prayer was
not questioned, because of the decision in, Marsh v. Chambers, but Town of Greece,
N.Y. v. Galloway proved in 2014 that the prayer does not need to be neutral in its
content. Mentioning Jesus Christ and not a “generic” God is not unconstitutional.
For Europeans, the discussions resemble controversies around the presence of the
cross in public places like parliaments, classrooms etc. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court agreed that even for-profit corporations could
have objection of conscience against generally applicable law, if a challenged
regulation is not the least restrictive mean of furthering compelling state interest.
The objection was to health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and
devices, as well as related education and counseling. The corporations in the case
were closely held, therefore there was no doubt whose objection of conscience
was discussed. In Poland, objection of conscience of individuals was questioned
in the public debate during last months.

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