Skip to main content

Marsh v. Chambers 463 U.S. 783 (1983)

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

A 6–3 Supreme Court sustained the constitutionality of legislative chaplaincies as not violating the separation of church and state mandated by the first amendment. Chief Justice warren e. burger for the Court abandoned the three-part test of lemon v. kurtzman (1971) previously used in cases involving the establishment clause and grounded his opinion wholly upon historical custom. Prayers by tax-supported legislative chaplains, traceable to the first continental congress and the very Congress that framed the bill of rights, had become "part of the fabric of our society." Justice john paul stevens, dissenting, asserted that Nebraska's practice of having the same Presbyterian minister as the official chaplain for sixteen years preferred one denomination over others. Justices william j. brennan and thurgood marshall, dissenting, attacked legislative chaplains generally as a form of religious worship sponsored by government to promote and advance religion and entangling the government with religion, contrary to the values implicit in the establishment clause—privacy in religious matters, government neutrality, freedom of conscience, autonomy of religious life, and withdrawal of religion from the political arena.

Leonard W. Levy

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Marsh v. Chambers 463 U.S. 783 (1983)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . 20 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Marsh v. Chambers 463 U.S. 783 (1983)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . (April 20, 2019).

"Marsh v. Chambers 463 U.S. 783 (1983)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.