WALLACE v. JAFFREE

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
83-812
Appellee 
Jaffree
Appellant 
Wallace
Consolidation 
Smith v. Jaffree, No. 83-929
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

An Alabama law authorized teachers to conduct regular religious prayer services and activities in school classrooms during the school day. Three of Jaffree's children attended public schools in Mobile.

Question 

Did Alabama law violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Jaffree, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Establishment of Religion

Yes. The Court determined the constitutionality of Alabama's prayer and meditation statute by applying the secular purpose test, which asked if the state's actual purpose was to endorse or disapprove of religion. The Court held that Alabama's passage of the prayer and meditation statute was not only a deviation from the state's duty to maintain absolute neutrality toward religion, but was an affirmative endorsement of religion. As such, the statute clearly lacked any secular purpose as it sought to establish religion in public schools, thereby violating the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

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WALLACE v. JAFFREE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 31 August 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_812>.
WALLACE v. JAFFREE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_812 (last visited August 31, 2014).
"WALLACE v. JAFFREE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 31, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1984/1984_83_812.