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Engel v. Vitale
Transcript of Engel v. Vitale
Who, What, Where
In 1951, the New York School Board approved a prayer for schools. The prayer was voluntary and was nondenominational, meaning it didn't favor any religion over another.
However, the parents of 10 students at the New Hyde Park school felt that the prayer went against their own religious beliefs and that the prayer isolated students who didn't wish to participate.
They took their complaint to the New York State court, trying to ban the prayer from schools.
The state court upheld the School Board's decision, saying that it was fine as long as students were not forced to participate.
The parents appealed. Eventually it reached the supreme court.
Engel v. Vitale as a Landmark Case
Engel v. Vitale is a landmark case because it set the
for future cases relating to the topic of religion in schools.
The precedent it set is that there is no school or government supported prayer (no matter if it is voluntary, nondenominational, or not) allowed in public schools from the point the case was decided, onward.
However, students could organize it
It also enforced the separation of church and state, and showed people that they would uphold this law.
The case's verdict was a major step forward for the religious freedom rights of religious minorities in America.
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Why is this case so important?
By: Rebekah Costello
and Danielle Anderson
"Almighty God, we acknowledge
our dependence upon Thee, and
we beg Thy blessings upon us,
our parents, our teachers and
Case Type and Adversaries
This case was a
because no one had committed a crime and the prosecution just disagreed with a law.
Vitale (representing the NY School Board) is the
and Engel (representing the parents) is the
Presiding over the court was the
of the time Earl Warren.
The case is considered to be an example of
activism because the court is taking an active role in solving a social and political problem that relates to the rights of citizens.
** Does a nondenominational and voluntary prayer in schools violate the student's 1st
religious freedom or the "no establishment of religion"
clause in the
Decision of the Supreme Court
of the court (6-1 for Engel) was that the recitation of a prayer in the New York public schools was unconstitutional, and violated the First Amendment rights of religious freedom and separation of church and state.
Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority opinion for the case and stated the court felt there was an "indirect pressure" placed on religious minorities to conform and recite the prayer unwillingly when the prayer was implemented.
In addition, he stated that the prayer violated the Establishment Clause, which prevents government from promoting or establishing any official religion.
What was the verdict?
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