2 Engel v. VitaleThe parents of students at Herricks High School complained the prayer to "Almighty God" contradicted their beliefs.The prayer in question was:Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
3 Engel v. VitaleThe plaintiffs argued that opening the school day with such a prayer (even if students are not required to recite it) violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."The court decided that government-directed prayer in public schools violated the Establishment Clause.
4 Lee v. WeismanMr. and Mrs. Daniel Weisman objected to an invocation at their daughter Deborah's 1989 graduation from a Rhode Island middle school.When the principal of the school (Lee), invited a rabbi to deliver a prayer, her parents requested a temporary restraining order seeking to ban the rabbi from speaking.The district court denied the motion and the family did attend the graduation ceremony where the rabbi prayed.After the graduation, the Weismans continued their litigation, and won their case in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.The district appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the prayer was nonsectarian and was doubly voluntary, as the student was free not to stand for the prayer and because participation in graduation was not required.
5 Lee v. WeismanIn answering the argument that participation in the prayer was itself voluntary, Kennedy formulated what is now known as the coercion test:"As we have observed before, there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools. Our decisions in [Engel] and [Abington] recognize, among other things, that prayer exercises in public schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion. The concern may not be limited to the context of schools, but it is most pronounced there. What to most believers may seem nothing more than a reasonable request that the nonbeliever respect their religious practices, in a school context may appear to the nonbeliever or dissenter to be an attempt to employ the machinery of the State to enforce a religious orthodoxy." 505 U.S. 577, 592
6 Lee v. WeismanThe coercion test is used, in addition to the Lemon Test and the Endorsement Test to determine constitutionality under the Establishment Clause of certain government actions.
7 Lee v. WeismanIncluding a clergy-led prayer within the events of a public high school graduation violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.5-4 decision
8 Lemon v. KurtzmanThe Supreme Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which allowed the state superintendent to reimburse nonpublic schools (most Catholic) for teachers' salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials, violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment.The decision also upheld a decision of the First Circuit which had struck down the Rhode Island Salary Supplement Act providing state funds to supplement salaries at nonpublic elementary schools by 15%. Catholic schools.
9 Lemon v. KurtzmanThe Court's decision in this case established the "Lemon test," which details the requirements for legislation concerning religion. It consists of 3 prongs:The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.
10 Lemon v. KurtzmanIf any of these 3 prongs is violated, the government's action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause.
11 Endorsement TestThe Endorsement Test was proposed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor case Lynch v. Donnelly which asked whether a particular government action amounted to an endorsement of religion, thus violating the Establishment Clause.According to the test, a government action is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a reasonable observer that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion.
12 Endorsement TestThe endorsement test is often invoked in situations where the government is engaged in expressive activities, such as graduation prayers, religious signs on government property, or religion in the curriculum.
13 Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe Santa Fe ISD allowed students to read Christian prayers at graduation and over the PA system at home football games. The prayers were read by an elected student chaplain.Two sets of current or former students and their respective mothers (one was Mormon, the other Catholic), objected to the practice and filed a suit on the basis that it violated the Establishment Clause.The plaintiffs were allowed to remain anonymous to protect them from harassment. They are referred to as the Does.
14 Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe Student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games violates the Establishment Clause.6-3 decision
15 Abington School District v. Schempp (consolidated with Murray v Abington School District v. Schempp (consolidated with Murray v. Curlett)Edward Schempp, a Unitarian, filed suit against the Abington School District in Federal District Court to prohibit the enforcement of a Pennsylvania state law that required his children to hear and sometimes read portions of the Bible as part of their public school education.The law required that "[a]t least ten verses from the Holy Bible [be] read, without comment, at the opening of each public school on each school day."Schempp alleged that the statute violated his and his family's rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
16 Abington School District v. Schempp (consolidated with Murray v Abington School District v. Schempp (consolidated with Murray v. Curlett)More famous than Schempp was the plaintiff in Murray v. Curlett, the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who founded the group American Atheists in 1963.Murray challenged Bible reading and prayer recitation in Maryland public schools.
17 Edwards v. AguillardTeaching creationism in public schools is unconstitutional because it attempts to advance a particular religion.The Court ruled that a LA law requiring creation science be taught in public schools whenever evolution was taught was unconstitutional because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion.At the same time, however, it held that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction."
18 Edwards v. Aguillard 8-1 in favor of Schempp Declared sanctioned organized Bible reading in public schools was unconstitutional.
19 Prayer During Noninstructional Time Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities.Among other things, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other noninstructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.While school authorities may impose rules of order and pedagogical restrictions on student activities, they may not discriminate against student prayer or religious speech in applying such rules and restrictions.
20 Organized Prayer Groups and Activities Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and "see you at the pole" gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups.Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of the religious content of their expression.School authorities possess substantial discretion concerning whether to permit the use of school media for student advertising or announcements regarding non-curricular activities. However, where student groups that meet for nonreligious activities are permitted to advertise or announce their meetings—for example, by advertising in a student newspaper, making announcements on a student activities bulletin board or public address system, or handing out leaflets—school authorities may not discriminate against groups who meet to pray.School authorities may disclaim sponsorship of non-curricular groups and events, provided they administer such disclaimers in a manner that neither favors nor disfavors groups that meet to engage in prayer or religious speech.
21 Teachers, Administrators, and other School Employees When acting in their official capacities as representatives of the state, teachers, school administrators, and other school employees are prohibited by the Establishment Clause from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students.Teachers may, however, take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities.Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities.Similarly, teachers may participate in their personal capacities in privately sponsored baccalaureate ceremonies.
22 Moments of SilenceIf a school has a "minute of silence" or other quiet periods during the school day, students are free to pray silently, or not to pray, during these periods of time.Teachers and other school employees may neither encourage nor discourage students from praying during such time periods.
23 Accommodation of Prayer During Instructional Time It has long been established that schools have the discretion to dismiss students to off-premises religious instruction, provided that schools do not encourage or discourage participation in such instruction or penalize students for attending or not attending.Similarly, schools may excuse students from class to remove a significant burden on their religious exercise, where doing so would not impose material burdens on other students.For example, it would be lawful for schools to excuse Muslim students briefly from class to enable them to fulfill their religious obligations to pray during Ramadan.Where school officials have a practice of excusing students from class on the basis of parents' requests for accommodation of nonreligious needs, religiously motivated requests for excusal may not be accorded less favorable treatment.In addition, in some circumstances, based on federal or state constitutional law or pursuant to state statutes, schools may be required to make accommodations that relieve substantial burdens on students' religious exercise. Schools officials are therefore encouraged to consult with their attorneys regarding such obligations.
24 Religious Expression and Prayer in Class Assignments Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.Such home and classroom work should be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school.Thus, if a teacher's assignment involves writing a poem, the work of a student who submits a poem in the form of a prayer (for example, a psalm) should be judged on the basis of academic standards (such as literary quality) and neither penalized nor rewarded on account of its religious content.
25 Student Assemblies and Extracurricular Events Student speakers at student assemblies and extracurricular activities such as sporting events may not be selected on a basis that either favors or disfavors religious speech.Where student speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.By contrast, where school officials determine or substantially control the content of what is expressed, such speech is attributable to the school and may not include prayer or other specifically religious (or anti-religious) content.To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate, neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech (whether religious or nonreligious) is the speaker's and not the school's.
26 Prayer at GraduationSchool officials may not mandate or organize prayer at graduation or select speakers for such events in a manner that favors religious speech such as prayer.Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate, neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech (whether religious or nonreligious) is the speaker's and not the school's.
27 Baccalaureate Ceremonies School officials may not mandate or organize religious ceremonies.However, if a school makes its facilities and related services available to other private groups, it must make its facilities and services available on the same terms to organizers of privately sponsored religious baccalaureate ceremonies.In addition, a school may disclaim official endorsement of events sponsored by private groups, provided it does so in a manner that neither favors nor disfavors groups that meet to engage in prayer or religious speech.
28 The Texas Legislature approved three new laws involving religion in public schools: Elective Courses: The State Board of Education is given the task of adopting curriculum standards for courses on the Bible. The standards would have to be approved by the state attorney general to ensure constitutionality. The classes will focus on the history and literature of the Bible.The Texas Pledge of Allegiance: The words 'under God' have been added. The new pledge will be: 'Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.'The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act: Requires public school districts to adopt policies specifically allowing spontaneous religious expression by students. The provision would create a 'limited open forum' — an opportunity for students to speak about religious issues on the same basis as they're allowed to speak about other topics.