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There's no law requiring the Supreme Court to base a decision about prayer in public schools on the First Amendment, but it is the only one that addresses the relationship between religion and the government. It's possible circumstances could arise that raise questions on more than one Amendment.

Amendment I

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.

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Q: Must US Supreme Court decisions about prayer in the public schools be based on the First Amendment?
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What are three US Supreme Court cases involving the First Amendment Establishment Clause and education?

This question asks about US Supreme Court cases involving organized religion and prayer in the public schools, a practice the Court has held is unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, which holds the government cannot promote religion. Public schools are considered government agents because they receive federal funds; therefore, they are bound by the same constitutional limitations as the state and federal governments. Private schools that do not receive money from the US government are under no such restriction and can conduct organized prayer without fear of intervention.It is important to note these Supreme Court decisions relate only to organized prayer in public schools. Individuals are free to pray privately, but not to impose their religious beliefs or the exercise of any religion on others.The Supreme Court made their position clearer in Capitol Square Review & Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753, 760 (1995) when they wrote: "...private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression." The key word in this statement is private.Landmark Supreme Court CasesEngel v. Vitale (1962) was the first US Supreme Court case that held organized prayer in public school is a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from promoting or establishing religion. The Court held that a New York school district's policy requiring students to recite a prayer at the beginning of each day violated some students religious traditions. They ruled the New York state law that allowed school districts to create this policy was unconstitutional.Case Citation:Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962)During the 1963 Term, the Court attempted to clarify the Engel v. Vitale, (1962) decision by tackling another case regarding school prayer, Abington Township v. Schempp, (1963), in order to address points that raised protests from certain members of the Christian public. Specifically, the Supreme Court wanted to address concerns about their interpretation of the Establishment Clause prohibiting public schools from sponsoring prayer, because the decision departed from two hundred years of American tradition in which Christianity and public education were freely intermingled. They explained that the Establishment Clause applied to the states under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.Case Citation:Abington Township School District v. Schempp, 374 US 203 (1963)The Supreme Court heard a similar case, Wallace v. Jaffree, in 1985, in which Alabama law permitted public school teachers to lead prayer sessions and teach religion during the school day. In a 6-3 decision, the Court determined the state law was unconstitutional under the First Amendment Establishment Clause.Case Citation:Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 US 38 (1985)In Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court specifically ruled clergy-lead prayer at public school events is a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause because public schools are government agents bound by the constitutional prohibition against imposing religion on a secular audience. Private schools are free to incorporate prayer into their activities.The Court held that "The school's rule creates subtle and indirect coercion (students must stand respectfully and silently), forcing students to act in ways which establish a state religion. The cornerstone principle of the Establishment Clause is that government may not compose official prayers to recite as part of a religious program carried on by government."Case Citation:Lee v. Weisman, 505 US 577 (1992)The Supreme Court addressed one school district's attempt to circumvent the decision in Lee v. Weisman, (1992) in their decision for Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, (2000), when the Court held the Santa Fe's policy of allowing student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games also violates the First Amendment Establishment Clause.In the opinion of the Court, the school district was violating the Establishment Clause by actively endorsing the single viewpoint of the majority and ensuring the minority views would be effectively silenced. This practice was not only a violation of the Establishment Clause, but also infringed on the rights of others, particularly cheerleaders, football players, and band members whose attendance was mandatory, who might hold different (or no) religious views. Justice Stevens wrote: "The Constitution demands that schools not force on students the difficult choice between attending these games and avoiding personally offensive religious rituals."Case Citation:Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 530 US 290 (2000)You can read more about these Supreme Court cases by accessing Related Questions, below.


Which case was the Supreme Court and first ruling on the Establishment Clause?

Two clauses of the first amendment concern the relationship of government to religion. There is the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The clauses were intended to serve common values. The establishment clause purpose was intended to prohibit the federal government from declaring and financially support a national religion. The Supreme Court interpretation of the establishment clause does not begin until 1947 in Everson v Board of education. Voting 5 to 4 the court upheld a state law that reimburses parents for the cost of busing their children to parochial schools. If the state had reimbursed the parochial schools for the cost of transportation it would violate the establishment clause. Another case was a school sponsored prayer starting the school day in New York schools violated the establishment clause.


Why was the religious right upset with some of the president reagans supreme court appointments?

They upheld a woman's right to have an abortion They struck down a school prayer law


Why was the religious right upset with some of president Reagan's supreme court appointments?

They struck down a school prayer law


How did President Eisenhower feel about his appointment of California Governor Earl Warren to the US Supreme Court?

Warren led the Court to many decisions that supported liberal principles.

Related questions

Why did they take prayer out of public schools?

Prayer was removed from public schools in the United States to uphold the constitutional principle of separating church and state. The Supreme Court ruled that organized prayer in public schools violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from promoting or endorsing a specific religion.


What amendment banned prayer from the school?

The First Amendment Establishment Clause has been used to ban organized prayer in public schools.


Which landmark court case struck down prayer in public schools?

The landmark court case that struck down prayer in public schools is Engel v. Vitale (1962). The Supreme Court ruled that state-sponsored prayer in public schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing a national religion.


Why was the Lord's prayer taken out of the schools?

The Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer, including the recitation of the Lord's Prayer, violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which prohibits government endorsement of religion. As a result, organized prayer was deemed unconstitutional in public schools to maintain the separation of church and state.


Is prayer in schools unconstitutional according to the US Supreme Court?

Yes and no. The US Supreme Court says organized prayer in public schools is a violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause, because schools are supported by taxpayer dollars. Taxpayer money comes from the government, the government is constitutionally prohibited from "establishing" religion, and public schools are an agent of the government.Organized prayer in schools established, run and supported by private or religious institutions is acceptable.Individuals have a right to pray privately wherever they want to - even in public schools, as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.For more information on the Supreme Courts view on prayer in public schools, see Related Questions, below.


Which doctrine does the us supreme court follow in deciding school prayer cases?

The US Supreme Court follows the doctrine of the separation of church and state in deciding school prayer cases. This doctrine, derived from the First Amendment of the US Constitution, prohibits the government from establishing or promoting a specific religion. The Court has consistently ruled that organized prayer or religious activities in public schools violate this principle.


What type of law is being used if the US Supreme Court declares schools cannot require students to recite a prayer in school due to the First Amendment?

Constitutional law. The Supreme Court has said publicschools, meaning those supported by taxes, cannot require students to recite a prayer in school, or at any school-sponsored function, under the First Amendment Establishment Clause. Private schools not dependent on the government for funding may require school prayer.The Establishment Clause states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Public schools are considered an agent of the federal government because they are tax-funded.


What was the actual prayer that was banned in public schools was there a standard script teachers typically used?

The actual prayer that was banned from public schools was a specific prayer known as the "Regents' Prayer" or the "Almighty God" prayer. This prayer was recited in some public schools in the United States before the ban. While there was no standard script that all teachers used, the Regents' Prayer was frequently used as it was a commonly accepted prayer in many schools.


What year did prayer in public schools start?

The issue of prayer in public schools started to gain prominence in the 1960s. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale that state-sponsored prayer in public schools was unconstitutional. This landmark decision marked a turning point in the debate over the separation of church and state in education.


What year was Bible reading taken out of school?

In 1962 the US Supreme Court removed prayer from our public schools. In 1963 Bibles were removed. In 1980, the US Supreme Court said the Ten Commandments had to be removed from our public schools.


What year did they take prayer out of the schools and why?

Amber Supko In 1963 there started to be some people against the Lord's Prayer in public schools. Stew731 The U. S. Supreme Court issued two bans. One in 1962 and the second in 1963. Both bans were the result of lawsuits against the teaching of religion and religious practices in public schools. Basically stating that organized prayer in schools was a violation of the separation of church and state. It was decided that publicly funded schools were an extension of the state, and that organized prayer or Bible readings were a form of proselytizing. The bans not only banned mandatory prayer in schools but also banned the daily reading of bible passages. The lawsuits were supported by several organizations but the most outspoken supporter for banning prayer in schools came from Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists, Inc.


How is the question of prayer in public schools affected by the establishment clause?

The Supreme Court established what is now the current prohibition on state-sponsored prayer in US schools. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.