Engel v. Vitale

The 1962 Supreme Court Case on School Prayer.

Facts of the Case

In April of 1962, a case was brought to the United States Supreme Court in hope to ban both the practice and teaching of prayer in public schools. Several parents argued that prayer was in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Those parents filed a lawsuit in the State of New York, and when it was ruled not in violation of the First Amendment, it was eventually brought to the Supreme Court.

Lower Court Verdict

The case was first brought to New York Supreme Court when Stephen Engel argued that prayer establishes religion while William Vitale argued that an established religion was traditional for American culture. The NY Supreme Court decided that the case should be moved to the US Supreme Court because it dealt with the constitution so, it was sent there.


Majority Decision of the Court

1.What was the decision?

The decision ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools.

2. What was the Supreme Court vote in the majority?

The Supreme Court vote was 6 to 1.

3. What was the date for the majority decision?

The decision was composed on June 25, 1962.

4. Which justices voted for the majority?

The justices who voted were: Warren, Black, Frankfurter, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, and White.

5. Who wrote the majority decision?

Justice Hugo Black wrote the majority decision of Engel v. Vitale in 1962.

6. Describe the majority opinion.

The majority decision was stated as religious activities becoming eliminated but the decision still remains unpopular to many people.

7. Were there any concurrent opinions written?

Yes, it was argued that any type of public promotion of religion violated the Establishment clause.

8. By whom?

This opinion was stated by Justice Douglas.

Importance/Significance and Relevance to today

This case still holds significance til today. Americans are diverse because several different immigrants with different cultures came here. That diversity is the American tradition. Prayer in school limited such tradition and did not allow students their freedoms that they get in America. This case allolwed students to hold solely their religious beliefs and this is still in effect today .
Engel v. VItale 1962