Notable Items:

Establishment Clause case
The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say .... (429) [emphasis added]
"Neither the fact that the prayer may be denominationally neutral nor the fact that its observance on the part of the students is voluntary can serve to free it from the limitations of the Establishment Clause ...." [Neither denominationally neutral nor voluntary can save the statute.]
Its [Establishment Clause] first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion.
Another purpose of the Establishment Clause rested upon an awareness of the historical fact that governmentally established religions and religious persecutions go hand in hand.

Respondent: Board of Education of Union Free School District No. 9, New Hyde Park, New York
Venue: Supreme Court of the United States
Opinion of the Court: Engel-Vitale (1962)

Issue(s) Before the Court:

Petitioner's Claim(s):

The petitioners contend among other things that the state laws requiring or permitting use of the Regents' prayer must be struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause because that prayer was composed by governmental officials as a part of a governmental program to further religious beliefs. (425)

Respondent's Claim(s):

... based upon the contention that the Regents' prayer is "non-denominational" and the fact that the program, as modified and approved by state courts, does not require all pupils to recite the prayer but permits those who wish to do so to remain silent or be excused from the room ....

Holding(s) and Disposition:

Held: The judgment of the Court of Appeals of New York is reversed .... (436)
Disposition: ... and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. (436)

Material Facts:

Procedural History:


Black Majority Opinion (Brennan, Clark, Douglas, Harlan, Warren)

Douglas Concurrance ()

Stewart Dissent (444)

Full Recounting of Facts

Black Majority Full Argument (Brennan, Clark, Douglas, Harlan, Warren)