Engel v. Vitale

Engel v. Vitale

Litigants=Engel v. Vitale
ArgueDate=April 3
DecideDate=June 25
FullName=Steven I. Engel, "et al." v. William J. Vitale, Jr., "et al."
Citation=82 S. Ct. 1261; 8 L. Ed. 2d 601; 1962 U.S. LEXIS 847; 20 Ohio Op. 2d 328; 86 A.L.R.2d 1285
Prior=191 N.Y.S.2d 453 (Sup. Ct. 1959), "aff'd", 206 N.Y.S.2d 183 (App. Div. 1960), "aff'd", 176 N.E.2d 579 (N.Y. 1961)
Subsequent=186 N.E.2d 124 (N.Y. 1962)
Holding=Government-directed prayer in public schools, even if it is denominationally neutral and non-mandatory, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
JoinMajority=Warren, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan
NotParticipating=Frankfurter and White
LawsApplied=U.S. Const. amend. I

"Engel v. Vitale", 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that determined that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools.

Background of the case

The case was brought by the parents of public school students in New Hyde Park, New York who complained the prayer to "Almighty God" contradicted their religious beliefs. They were supported by groups opposed to the school prayer including rabbinical organizations, Ethical Culture, and Judaic organizations. 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.

The plaintiffs argued that opening the school day with such a prayer (even if students are not required to recite it) violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as applied to the states through the Fourteenth), which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The governments of twenty-two states [The "amicus curiae" was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.] signed on to an "amicus curiae" brief urging affirmance of the New York Court of Appeals decision that upheld the constitutionality of the prayer. The American Ethical Union, the American Jewish Committee, and the Synagogue Council of America each submitted briefs urging the Court to instead reverse and rule that the prayer was unconstitutional.

The Court's decision

The court decided that government-directed prayer in public schools was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. This was decided in a vote of 6-1, because before the decision could be announced, Justice Frankfurter suffered a cerebral stroke that forced him to retire, and Charles Whittaker resigned in March 1962.

Black's majority opinion

Justice Hugo Black argued the importance of separation between church and state by giving a lengthy history of the issue, beginning with the sixteenth century in England. He then claimed the prayer is a religious activity by the very nature of it being a prayer. The majority further ruled that prescribing such a religious activity for school children violates the Establishment Clause. The program, created by government officials to promote a religious belief, is therefore impermissible.

In response to the defendant's claims that: (a) people respect any specific established religion; and (b) the prayer is voluntary, Black's opinions held that neither of these claims frees it from contradicting the Establishment Clause. The opinion held that the fact that it "promote"s a religion is sufficient to conclude it is in violation, even if that promotion is not coercive. Furthermore, the opinion held that the fact that the prayer is vaguely worded enough not to promote any particular religion is not a sufficient defense, as it still promotes a family of religions (those that recognize "Almighty God"), which is also a violation of the Establishment Clause.

tewart's dissent

In his dissent, Potter Stewart argued that the majority's background narratives regarding England, the Book of Common Prayer, and the separation of church and state are irrelevant since England had then and has now an established religion. He said nobody is trying to establish a state church, as England had done; rather, the real issue is whether they will prohibit those who want to begin their day at school with prayer from doing so. Moreover, he argued that phrases like "the wall of separation" are nowhere in the Constitution and Black used them uncritically.

Stewart then listed the religious references present at the top of all three branches of the federal government and on American coins, in the National Anthem, in the Pledge of Allegiance, and in one of the court's recent decisions ("Zorach v. Clauson"). He argued that neither these examples, nor the voluntary prayer in New York established a religion.

ubsequent history

"Engel" became the basis for several subsequent decisions limiting government-directed prayer in school. In "Wallace v. Jaffree" (1985), the Supreme Court ruled Alabama's law permitting one minute for prayer or meditation was unconstitutional. In "Lee v. Weisman" (1992), the court prohibited clergy-led prayer at high school graduation ceremonies. "Lee v. Weisman", in turn, was a basis for "Santa Fe ISD v. Doe" (2000), in which the Court extended the ban to school sanctioning of "student"-led prayer at high school football games.

ee also

*List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 370
*List of United States Supreme Court cases
*Separation of Church and State in the United States
*"West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette" (1943)
*"Everson v. Board of Education" (1947)
*"Abington School District v. Schempp" (1963)
*"Lemon v. Kurtzman" (1971)
*"Wallace v. Jaffree" (1985)


External links

*caselaw source
case="Engel v. Vitale", 370 U.S. 421 (1962)

* [http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468/ Oyez.org]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Engel v. Vitale — (1962) The U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down officially mandated prayer in public schools as violating the separation of church and state, as guaranteed by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Full text: Engel v. Vitale… …   Law dictionary

  • Engel v. Vitale — ▪ law case       case in which the U.S. Supreme Court (Supreme Court of the United States) ruled on June 25, 1962, that voluntary prayer in public schools violated the U.S. Constitution (Constitution of the United States of America) s First… …   Universalium

  • Engel — means angel in German, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Afrikaans and may refer to: * Engel (song), performed by Rammstein * Engel (role playing game), a 2002 role playing game * Engel (band), Swedish industrial/melodic death metal band *Engel group… …   Wikipedia

  • San Vitale — Außenansicht von Norden Blick in die Kuppel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Baptisterium Riva San Vitale — Ansicht von Westen Das Baptisterium in Riva San Vitale stammt aus dem 5. Jahrhundert. Es ist das älteste christliche Bauwerk der Schweiz und steht mitten im Dorf Riva San Vitale am südlichen Ende des Luganersees im Kanton Tessin.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Abington School District v. Schempp — Abington Township School District v. Schempp Supreme Court of the United States Argued February 27–28, 196 …   Wikipedia

  • Hugo Black — Infobox Judge name = Hugo Black imagesize = caption = office = Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court termstart = August 19, 1937 termend = September 18, 1971 nominator = Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointer = predecessor = Willis… …   Wikipedia

  • Warren Court — The Warren Court (1953 1969) represents a period in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States that was marked by one of the starkest and most dramatic changes in judicial power and philosophy. Led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Herricks High School — Infobox Private School background = #f0f6fa border = #ccd2d9 name = Herricks High School established = type = Public head name = Superintendent head = Jack Bierwirth city = New Hyde Park state = NY country = USA campus = enrollment = 1326 faculty …   Wikipedia

  • First Amendment to the United States Constitution — First Amendment redirects here. For other uses, see First Amendment (disambiguation). United States of America This a …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”