Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wallace v. Jaffree

Case Name: Wallace v. Jaffree

Year: 1985

Result: 6-3, favor Jaffree

Related Constitutional Issue/Amendment: Amendment I, Establishment Clause, Freedom of Religion

Civil Rights or Civil Liberties: Civil Liberties

Significance/Precedent: The Court ruled that the Alabama law allowing teachers to pray in classrooms violated the establishment clause in the First Amendment. The Court upheld Jefferson's "wall of separation".

Quote from Majority Opinion: "The addition of "or voluntary prayer" indicates that the State intended to characterize prayer as a favored practice. Such an endorsement is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion."

Summary of the Dissent: The three separate dissents believed that authorizing prayer did not necessarily endorse it. They also pointed out many examples in which religious subjects are used in other governmental activities. The dissent argued that something so simple did not threaten the establishment clause or religious freedom.
Quote: "The statute does not remotely threaten religious liberty; it affirmatively furthers the values of religious freedom and tolerance that the Establishment Clause was designed to protect. Without pressuring those who do not wish to pray, the statute simply creates an opportunity to think, to plan, or to pray if one wishes - as Congress does by providing chaplains and chapels."

Six-word Summary: Prayer in schools violates Establishment Clause