U.S. Supreme Court

Kagan dissent is corrected after magazine points out historical error


A dissent by Justice Elena Kagan in the Supreme Court’s town-meeting prayer case has been revised to correct a historical error.

Tablet Magazine pointed out the error in identifying the first community of American Jews, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

Kagan’s dissent argued that “chaplain of the month” prayers before town meetings were unconstitutional because they were primarily sectarian and the town did not reach out to non-Christians. She referred to George Washington’s visit to the Jewish community of Newport, Rhode Island, and his acknowledgement that government grants the “immunities of citizenship” to both Christians and Jews. Kagan began the story this way:

“In 1790, George Washington traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, a longtime bastion of religious liberty and the home of the first community of American Jews.”

The error, according to Tablet, was that New Amsterdam, rather than Newport, was the first community of American Jews. The Law Blog and Tablet have the corrected version:

“In 1790, George Washington traveled to Newport, Rhode Island, a longtime bastion of religious liberty and the home of one of the first communities of American Jews.”

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