In a 6-3 decision that lowered the figurative wall of separation between church and state, the justices said a New York public school district must let the Good News Club hold after-school meetings for grade-school children to pray and study the Bible.
Justice Stephen Breyer, usually a moderate-to-liberal vote on the court, joined the five most conservative members in partial support of the religious club's request. Justices John Paul Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.
The majority found that excluding the club was unconstitutional discrimination based on the club's views. Letting the meeting take place would not be an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion, the court ruled.
The U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protects free speech and the free exercise of religion, but it also bars government establishment of religion.