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The Case Wallace V. Jaffre (1985)

Essay by   •  May 12, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,059 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,149 Views

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Are you familiar with the case Wallace v. Jaffre (1985)?

Yes, in this case, the Supreme Court held that a state law authorizing a one-minute period of silence in public schools was unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment's establishment clause. Using well-established guidelines set out in Lemon v. Kurtzman(1971), the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of a statute under the establishment clause though a three-part test. First, the statute must have a secular purpose. Next, the principal or primary effect of the statute may not advance or inhibit religion. Finally, the statute may not foster excessive government entanglement with religion. In this case, the court found that the statute failed on the first prong of the test. The legislative intent and purpose of the state law was to advocate religion and return voluntary prayer back to the public schools. This purpose was clearly not secular. Therefore, the law was in violation of the establishment clause under the First Amendment.

Prohibited by the First Amendment's establishment clause

Are you familiar with the case Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990)?

Yes, using the Equal Access Act of 1984, the Supreme Court, in this case, held that the denial of students' First Amendment speech rights. Applying the Act, the Court found that once the school maintained a "limited open forum" for non-curriculum related student groups, it was prohibited from keeping other groups from forming clubs based on the content of their message, even prayer clubs. At the heart of the decision, the Court found that the Equal Access Act was not a violation of the establishment clause because it provided for equal access to both secular and religious speech and did not have the primary effect of advancing religion.

Protected by the First Amendment's free speech clause

Are you familiar with the case Lee v. Weisman (1992)?

Yes, in this case the Supreme Court objected to a rabbi's prayer at a public middle school because both the speaker and the content of the prayer had been arranged by the school officials, and the prayer couldn't be effectively avoided because the students would feel "psychologically coerced" to attend their graduation ceremony. The Supreme Court held that officially sponsored invocations and benedictions at public school graduations violated the First Amendment ban against government establishment of religion. In this case, the school (acting as a government party) had the effect of coercing students into participation in religious exercises when they sponsored prayers at a school event. By the direction and advice of school officials that the prayers be nonsectarian, their acts constituted control of the prayers' content and school entanglement with religion, which effectively violate the establishment clause.

Prohibited by the First Amendment's establishment clause

Are you familiar with the case Jones v. Clear Creek Independant School District (1993)?

Yes, in this case the district court followed Jones and ruled against the objecting parents in an unpublished order for allowing "nonsectarian, non-proselytizing, student-initiated, student-led"

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