Cynthia Simpson will use the recent Supreme Court ruling in Greece v Galloway to re-ignite her case to allow her Wiccan prayers before local meetings.
In 2002, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, Cynthia Simpson made national headlines when the local Board of Supervisors denied her the ability to lead Wiccan prayers before their meetings.
Yet again this issue has arisen in our society, and as of June 2nd, 2014, another ruling has been put into place regarding public prayer. This time it was in Greece, New York, where two women sued the board meeting governors for starting each meeting out with a prayer that was “increasingly Christian in nature.” Although the Supreme Court ruled a close 5-4, the decision was in favor of allowing the prayers to continue. The reasons for the ruling included the fact that prayer had been tradition. The board also stated that they do not condemn anybody for not joining the prayer, and they also allow anybody of the board to state a prayer at the beginning of each meeting. Although it has become a “Christian” prayer in nature; the flexibility offered by the New York board won them their right to continue.
So what does this have to do with Wiccan Priestess Cynthia Simpson? Everything. The court ruling in Simpson vs. Chesterfield actually ruled the opposite of the most recent decision – disallowing Simpson to do her Wiccan prayers. In New York, the Supreme Court ruled that the prayer should continue while, in Virginia, the fourth circuit of District Court ruled that it was constitutional for Simpson to be excluded. In 2002 Simpson’s case was denied by the Supreme Court. In just 12 short years, the courts seem to have flip-flopped on this issue; and much of it is probably due to the access of information through today’s technology and media. But what does this new ruling mean for Simpson vs. Chesterfield?
The court concluded that the government’s prayers were lawful so long as they did not see to establish a particular religion or deny a variety of religions from offering their prayers. This means that Simpson has precedence on her side to help prove her case. While separation of church and state has been the linchpin of these court cases, the coagulation of church and state is unavoidable in the end. Prayer, as concluded in the Greece v Galloway case, is deeply rooted in tradition, but so is respect for everyone’s beliefs. Simpson and her lawyers will seek to prove that that respect is deserved for all kinds of beliefs, including hers. Although, Justice Thomas may still dissent in this case.