Fields v. Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (U.S.C.A. 3rd Circuit, 2019)

Separation of Church & State
Free Exercise of Religion
Discrimination
Separation of Church & State
Free Exercise of Religion
Discrimination

At issue in this case is the constitutionality of a Pennsylvania House of Representatives policy barring nontheists from serving as guest chaplains to offer the Chamber’s daily innovation. ADL’s brief asserts that the policy is unconstitutional for two reasons. First, it violates longstanding Establishment Clause precedent prohibiting government from preferring one religion over others. Second, the House’s justification that historically nontheists have not given invocations before Congress or the House Chamber is flawed because this absence does not constitute evidence of intentional exclusion from the legislative prayer opportunity. And furthermore, there is no historical record of other minority faiths offering legislative prayers. Thus, taken to its logical conclusion, the House’s argument would exclude Jews and other minority faiths from offering invocations.