Exam Engel v. Vitale.pdf - Engel v Vitale(1962 Summary...

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Unformatted text preview: Engel v. Vitale (1962) Summary Before school everyday in New York Public schools, the day would start with a salute to the flag and then students are voluntarily allowed to say the school prayer: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.” Students who do not wish to say the prayer can stay silent. However, Stephen Engel, a believer in the Jewish Faith, sued the local school board, which required schools to have their own prayer which can be recited. Members of the plaintiff argued that this prayer infringed on the first amendment establishment clause. Originally The New York Court of Appeals rejected their arguments. This case then went to the supreme court. In a 6-1 vote favoring Engel, the supreme court decided that The state cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if participation is not required and the prayer is not tied to a particular religion. Part 1 a. b. c. Who were the parties involved? i. The plaintiff side had Stephen Engel who lead the case, but in addition, another Jewish family of the school, a member of the American Ethical Union, a Unitarian, and a non-religious person Why did the case come before the lower courts? i. The case came because Engel and the rest of the plaintiff argued that it violated the first amendment Establishment clause 1. This clause both prohibits the government from establishing an official religion BUT IN ADDITION prohibits the government from favoring one religion over the other a. So by having a christian prayer be mandatory favors christianity over the other religions. What did the two parties involved want as a result of this case? i. The plaintiff, Engel, wanted the prayer to be removed entirely because it violated the first amendment rights. The defendants, Vitale, and the local board of education, wanted the prayer to remain as they believed it is non-denominational and does not imply preference of any one religion over others. 2. The Court’s Decision & Legal Reasoning The court decided that the state of New York cannot hold prayers in public schools, even if the prayer is not tied to a religion and if participation is optional. What was the majority opinion? The majority opinion was that having prayer in public schools even if participation is optional and if the prayer is not tied to a religion, it violates the 1st amendment which involves freedom of religion. Including that having state written prayers contradicted the establishment clause. 2. The Court’s Decision & Legal Reasoning cont. What was the minority opinion (if there was one)? The minority opinion was expressed by Justice Stewart argued that the prayer was voluntary and that students were free to choose not to participate. Were there any concurrent opinions - what were they? There were no concurrent opinions stated in this case. 2. The Court’s Decision & Legal Reasoning cont. What was the legal argument that led the justices to their decision? The legal argument that led the justices to their decision was that in school prayer violated the establishment clause as part of the first amendment. The justices decided that the prayer was unconstitutional because it was a religious activity composed by government officials and used as a part of a government program to advance religious beliefs. Part 3 A connection to a Foundational Document The Case Engel v. Vitale connects directly to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, more specifically, the First Amendment. The First Amendment states, ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free 1. 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.” The text “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” a. This quote shows exactly why this case was taken by the supreme court. The words Establishment of religion means that The Government cannot create, or force people to practice a religion. Therefore, the Supreme court took this case because the school, that gets Government funding was making their students practice a religion through prayer. This was ruled unconstitutional, and therefore schools cannot make students say prayers, however they can still play religious pieces of music, and signing gospel is still allowed. 2. The Court’s Decision & Legal Reasoning cont. On what legal precedent or foundation did they base their decision? The justices based their decision on the fact that in school prayer in public schools violated the first amendment because it goes against the establishment clause. The establishment clause states that the government cannot favor any one religion over the other. Public schools are run by the government so having prayer in public schools violates the establishment clause, violating the first amendment. 4. Comparison to a Non- Required Case Town of Greece v. Galloway/ Engel v. Vitale What Constitutional Clause do they share in common? Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014) and Engel v. Vitale both involve the establishment clause. 4. Comparison to a Non- Required Case cont. What is the background detail of the non-required case? The case of Town of Greece v. Galloway is about the town of Greece, New York, who conducted official business at monthly public meetings. At the beginning of each meeting there would be a prayer given by an invited member of the clergy. In February 2008, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens sued the town of Greece, New York and John Auberger, (who was the town supervisor) because they believed that the town’s practice violated the establishment clause of the 1st amendment. 4. Comparison to a Non- Required Case cont. What is the similarity and differences between your required case and the non-required case? Similarities Both of the cases violated the establishment clause Both of the cases involved prayer Both were argued that government run establishments were favoring one religion Case Engel v. Vitale Differences - Town of Greece v. Galloway - About prayer in public schools The court ruled that prayer in public schools was not a loud The court ruled that this did violate the establishment clause About prayer at a town function The court ruled that prayer at town meetings did not violate the establishment clause Citations for Parts 2 & 4 “Engel v. Vitale.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, . The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Engel v. Vitale.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 June 2019, . “{{Meta.pageTitle}}.” {{Meta.siteName}}, . “{{Meta.pageTitle}}.” {{Meta.siteName}}, . ...
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