Engel V. Vitale: a Liberal Ruling on a Conservative Matter

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Rosendo Salazar GOVT220-D03 April 9, 2012 Engel v. Vitale: A Liberal Ruling on a Conservative Matter Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a pivotal Supreme Court decision, argued to be pivotal in the elimination of government conducted prayer in public schools. For many decades, public educational institutions found ways to include prayer into their daily routines. The question at hand was whether this was an unconstitutional practice, by violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, or a voluntary prayer of a non-denominational nature. This ruling was near unanimous among the Justices but split politicians along conservative and liberal lines. This decision was a victory for the liberal interpretations of the first amendment rights granted by the Constitution. The case was born in a school district in Hyde Park, New York. The school district had set forth a ruling that every morning a prayer would be recited after the pledge of allegiance. The following prayer, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen,” was led by teachers in the classroom and recited by students. A student could refrain from saying the prayer or could leave the room if the student objected to the practice. Parents of ten students brought forth the complaint and later the suit that stated the practice violated the First Amendment rights of the students, more specifically the Establishment Clause which prohibits the establishment of a government religion. In question was the constitutionality of the practice of reciting a voluntary, denominationally neutral prayer by an employee of a public school district. Teachers led the prayer after the pledge of allegiance. This was similar to the practices used in Congress and the Senate. The use of “In God We Trust” being stamped on U.S.
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