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1 st amendment

1st Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  • Establishment Clause – prohibits an establishment of religion by the government
  • Free Exercise Clause – prohibits the interference by government in the exercise of religion
religion in schools

Public school buses can bus parochial school children as a matter of safety (Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 1947)

Release time

Students can be released from school for religious classes if they are held off school grounds

Religious Organizations

Must be allowed just as other organizations are allowed (Westside Community Board of Education v. Mergens, 1990)


Schools that teach evolution do not have to teach creationalism (Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987)


State funds can be used for secular textbooks that are used in public and religious schools (Board of Education of Central School Discrict No. 1, 1968)

Remedial Program Funds

Public Funds can be used in church run schools for secular remediation programs (Agostini v. Felton, 1997)

Use of School Facilities

Religious groups are allowed the same access to school facilities as other community groups (Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 1993)


No prayer in school (even voluntary) unless led by a students

Although student led prayer at high school football games were not supported b/c it was endorsed by the school (Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)

Religion in Schools
religion con t
Community Holiday Decorations

Can display religious Christmas symbols if there are some non-religious symbols, too (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984)

Government prayer

Congress and state legislatures can open with a prayer led by a gov’t paid chaplain [because it is a deeply rooted historical tradition (March v. Chambers, 1983)]

Religion Con’t
speech and press
Speech and Press
  • Give people the right to have their say and to hear what others have to say
  • Intended to protect the expression of unpopular views
commercial speech businesses
Commercial Speech (businesses)
  • Can advertise services
  • Can advertise drug and alcohol prices
  • Cannot advertise misleading ads
  • Banned cigarette ads on radio and TV
not protected
Not protected…
  • Libel – false and malicious use of printed words
  • Slander – false and malicious use of spoken words
  • Obscenity
  • Speech that advocates violence
prior restraint
Prior Restraint
  • Prior restraint – preventing information from being spoken or printed
  • In most cases, the gov’t CANNOT prevent ideas from being expressed (Near v. Minnesota, 1931)
  • Military / CIA information
  • School officials can censor school newspapers
symbolic speech non verbal
Symbolic Speech (non-verbal)
  • Picketing by strikers
  • Wearing a black arm band as a political protest (Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969)
  • Burning the American flag (Texas v. Johnson, 1989)
assembly and petition
Assembly and Petition
  • Assembly – to gather with one another and express view on public matters
  • Petition – to bring views to the attention of public officials (petitions, letters, advertising, lobbying, parades, marches, demonstrations)
  • Time, Place, and Manner can be regulated
  • Cannot trespass on private property