Engel v. Vitale. Jacqueline Brody Michael Elliott Thaddeus Goodchild. Case Summary.
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Action was brought by the families of students in Union Free School District No. 9 in New Hyde Park, New York to enjoin the Board of Education in that district from its practice of directing principals to cause a 22-word, non-denominational prayer to be said aloud by students in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of each day.
∙Public Reactions to Engel
∙The Law Since Engel
∙Modern Day Controversies
Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992)
Holding: the Supreme Court held that a high school principal acting in accordance with school board policy violated the Establishment Clause by inviting a local clergyman to deliver a nonsectarian prayer at graduation.
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000)
Holding: the Court ruled that the recitation of a prayer over a school microphone by a student and supervised by a school faculty member at a football game in accordance with school policy violated the First Amendment.
Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)
Holding: disallowed a state law requiring posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms.
Treen v. Karen B., 455 U.S. 913 (1982)
Holding: a statute authorizing student volunteers to lead classroom prayers in a public school violated the Establishment Clause.
By 2001, the test for compliance with the Establishment Clause generally required that a school policy demonstrate a secular purpose that neither advances nor inhibits religion in its principal effect. Id.
Courts continued to carefully scrutinize such policies to see that they did not endorse, show favoritism toward, or promote religious ideas. Id.
Prayer in School Video Clip
YouTube - Kicked out of school for refusing to join prayer circle
Holding: the court held that both the 1954 Act of Congress adding Under God to the Pledge of Allegiance and a public school's practice of teacher-led recitation of the Pledge violated the Establishment Clause.
Reactions to Newdow:
Elk Grove Unified School Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004)
Holding: the Supreme Court threw out the case based on standing because the plaintiff did not have legal custody of his daughter.
Moments after the Supreme Court's ruling was announced students at Elk Grove Elementary School recited the Pledge of Allegiance. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/rightsandfreedoms/a/pledgeruling.htm.
In a concurring opinion, Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor and Thomas wrote that if the case had been decided on its merits, they would have upheld the words "under God" as constitutional. Id.
The motto In God We Trust was first placed on United States coins in 1864 largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War, but In God We Trust did not become the official U.S. national motto until after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/currency/in-god-we-trust.shtml.
From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania. Id.