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Marsh v. Chambers

Significance, Is There An American Civil Religion?, A Nation In Change, Impact, Further Readings


Frank Marsh, Nebraska State Treasurer, et al.


Ernest Chambers

Petitioner's Claim

That prayer led by a publicly paid chaplain to open Nebraska legislature sessions should not be found in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause due to its historical and secular role.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Shanler D. Cronk

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Herbert J. Friedman

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, Warren E. Burger (writing for the Court), Sandra Day O'Connor, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

5 July 1983


Upheld the state of Nebraska's claim and overturned two lower courts' decisions prohibiting legislative prayer and its public funded support.

Related Cases

  • Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947).
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).
  • Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984).
  • County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988