Supreme Court Case: Engel V. Vitale Analysis

1305 words - 5 pages

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTIONA. According to the First Amendment, the enactment of any law establishing a religion is prohibited. Under the supervision of the Constitution, Congress cannot interfere with the freedom of religion; however, the Fourteenth Amendment does not allow the states (or their officials) to limit the basic rights of all citizens.B. In the case of Engel v. Vitale, the Board of Regents for the State of New York approved a short, voluntary prayer to be recited at the start of school each day. A group of parents whose children attended the School District disagreed with this religious practice and argued that the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violates the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment.C. In the opinion of the children's parents, the "use of the official prayer in the public school was contrary to the beliefs, religions, or religious practices of both themselves and their children" ("Engel v. Vitale"). The parents aimed to challenge the constitutionality of the School District's authorization of the use of prayer in public schools. In the eyes of the New York State Board of Regents, the prayer was a "Statement on Moral and Spiritual Training in the Schools" ("Engel v. Vitale"). The state officials declared that the "statement will be subscribed to by all men and women of good will, and [they] call upon all of them to aid in giving life to [the] program" ("Supreme Court Collection").D. The court case of Engel v. Vitale originated in the state of New York, and was brought to the attention of a New York State Court by the malcontented parents of their children enrolled in the public school system. Reasoning behind the case being sustained within the state of New York rests as it was the place of origin as well as it was, in fact, the School District of New York under inquiry. After the confrontation, the New York Court of Appeals had approved the lower state courts which had supported New York's power to use the daily prayer in public schools so long as the students were not required to join in the prayer.SECTION 2: FACTSA. Initially, the case that became known as Engel v. Vitale began as a lawsuit in 1958. Steven I. Engel was one of the five parents of students from the small suburb of New Hyde Park, Long Island who believed that the prayer was composed of religious nature and abused the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. William J. Vitale, Jr. was a member of the opposing side, in favor of the nondenominational prayer. In the early 1950's, the New York State Board of Regents composed a prayer to be spoken aloud by the class under the supervision of a teacher at the start of each school day. Regularly, the prayer was read as follows: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country." Under the belief that "history of man is inseparable from the history of religion" ("Engel v....

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