ENGEL v. VITALE

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
468
Petitioner 
Engel
Respondent 
Vitale
Decided By 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the intervenors-respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

The Board of Regents for the State of New York authorized a short, voluntary prayer for recitation at the start of each school day. This was an attempt to defuse the politically potent issue by taking it out of the hands of local communities. The blandest of invocations read as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."

Question 

Does the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violate the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Engel, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Yes. Neither the prayer's nondenominational character nor its voluntary character saves it from unconstitutionality. By providing the prayer, New York officially approved religion. This was the first in a series of cases in which the Court used the establishment clause to eliminate religious activities of all sorts, which had traditionally been a part of public ceremonies. Despite the passage of time, the decision is still unpopular with a majority of Americans.

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ENGEL v. VITALE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468>.
ENGEL v. VITALE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468 (last visited November 23, 2014).
"ENGEL v. VITALE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 23, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468.