MARSH v. CHAMBERS, 463 U.S. 783 (1983)

(Legislative Chaplains)

The Nebraska Legislature begins each of its sessions with a prayer by a chaplain paid by the State with the legislature's approval. Respondent member of the Nebraska Legislature brought an action in Federal District Court, claiming that the legislature's chaplaincy practice violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and seeking injunctive relief. The District Court held that the Establishment Clause was not breached by the prayer but was violated by paying the chaplain from public funds, and accordingly enjoined the use of such funds to pay the chaplain. The Court of Appeals held that the whole chaplaincy practice violated the Establishment Clause, and accordingly prohibited the State from engaging in any aspect of the practice. The US Supreme Court reversed, finding that the chaplaincy program did not violate the first amendment. Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Stevens dissented.